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									FOR IMMEDIATE RELEAESE: June 17, 2003
CONTACT:
Shaleek Wilson, 323-469-8680 ext. 229
Keisha Manns-Curiel, 323-469-8680 ext. 227
Gigi Pandian, ACLU-NC, 415-621-2493


          Settlement Reached in Suit Over Discriminatory
                Admissions Process at UC Berkeley

SAN FRANCISCO-- The Regents of the University of California reached a settlement
with plaintiffs in a federal civil rights lawsuit that charged that the UC Berkeley
undergraduate admissions process discriminated against students of color.

Filed in 1999 on behalf of African-American, Latino, and Pilipino American applicants to
UC Berkeley, Castaneda v. Regents of the University of California alleged that the
university’s admission procedures unfairly disadvantaged applicants of color in violation
of their federal civil rights by not taking into account the full range of indicators of
“merit.”

The parties were able to settle the case because of UC Berkeley’s decision, while the
litigation was pending, to use “comprehensive review” for every applicant. A federal
judge in San Francisco approved a consent decree on June 9, which requires the Regents
to take certain steps to ensure compliance with civil rights laws.

“This consent decree is important because California is the most racially diverse state in
the nation and our public universities must reflect that diversity,” said Kimberly West-
Faulcon, Director of the Western Regional Office of the NAACP Legal Defense and
Educational Fund (LDF) in Los Angeles.

In the Fall of 1998, the University implemented a new admissions policy that plaintiffs
claimed discriminated against and unfairly diminished the admission chances of qualified
students of color by relying heavily on standardized tests such as the SAT. “The new
policy also gave unfair advantage to students with access to special honors courses such
as Advanced Placement (AP) courses. African American, Latino and Pilipino students
are much less likely to attend schools that offer such courses,” said Julie A. Su, Litigation
Director at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California.

“SAT scores alone will not tell you who is qualified to attend UC Berkeley,” added Maria
Blanco, Senior National Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and
Educational Fund.

In 1998 over 750 African American, Latino and Pilipino American applicants with grade
point averages of 4.0 or better were denied admission. While white students with 4.0
GPAs or better had a 48.2 percent chance of admission, Latino students had only a 39.7
percent chance, African American students a 38.5 percent chance and Pilipino students a
31.6 percent chance.

“The Regents’ decision to end affirmative action in 1995 threatened to resegregate the
UC system,” explained Eva Paterson, Executive Director of the Equal Justice Society
who was Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San
Francisco Bay Area at the time the litigation was filed.

“UC Berkeley went far beyond ending affirmative action. It discriminated against
students of color,” said Katayoon Majd, staff attorney at the ACLU of Northern
California.

Since the lawsuit was originally filed, UC has made the following significant changes to
the UC Berkeley undergraduate admissions polices:

      On May 16, 2001, the UC Regents passed resolution RE-28 rescinding Special
       Policy 1 (SP-1). SP-1, among other requirements (the most renown of which was
       its prohibition against the consideration of race in University admissions),
       prohibited UC Berkeley from considering other personal criteria such as
       leadership ability, special talents, work experience, extracurricular activities and
       diversity of personal background and personal experience for at least half of all
       freshman admits;
      Under the new comprehensive review UC Berkeley has implemented, every
       applicant to the university is evaluated on the basis of his or her entire applicant
       file, including personal statements and extracurricular activity as well as grade
       and test scores;
      The present admissions policy places less emphasis on SAT test scores. In fact,
       on February 18, 2001, UC President Richard Atkinson (a named defendant in the
       lawsuit) observed, “that America’s overemphasis on the SAT is compromising
       our educational system.” He also recommended that all UC campuses move away
       from using numerical formulas and adopt a comprehensive, holistic approach to
       admissions (Speech delivered to the 83rd Annual Meeting of the American
       Council on Education in Washington, D.C.);
      The present admissions policy also places less emphasis on AP courses.

In light of these changes, which addressed many of the plaintiffs’ concerns with the UC
admissions policy, the parties were able to settle the case. In reaching the agreement, the
Regents expressed their commitment “to administering their admissions process in a
manner that is fair, educationally justifiable, and in compliance with all applicable state
and federal laws.”

Under the terms of the consent decree, the Regents will retain Yale Professor Robert
Sternberg as a consultant on the university’s admissions process to ensure that it complies
with civil rights laws. In addition, the Regents will provide plaintiffs’ counsel with
specific admissions data for the next five years.
 “Berkeley’s new comprehensive review policy addresses the primary concern raised by
this lawsuit. It looks at students as more than a series of numbers. True merit-based
admissions require assessing the entire application in a meaningful way. Now the fact
that a student was president of her senior class, wrote a first-rate essay, or had to work
everyday after school is considered along with a student’s grades and test scores,” said
West-Faulcon.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Asian Pacific American Legal Center
of Southern California, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund,
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, and the American
Civil Liberties Union of Northern California brought the lawsuit.

A copy of the consent decree is available online at www.aclunc.org, www.apalc.org,
www.lccr.com, www.maldef.org, and www.naacpldf.org.

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