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College Access

Our current research topics related to college access include college admissions, affirmative action, financing, diversity, and underrepresented students in higher education.

Two thousand-eight marked the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Bakke decision, which legally upheld the consideration of race as a factor in admissions decisions for the purpose of promoting diversity in higher education. Such affirmative action policies have opened the doors of selective colleges and universities to many more minority students than might have otherwise had opportunities. While access to higher education has improved for minorities in this country, that progress is still severely threatened due, in part, to a series of very serious attacks on affirmative action. In 1996, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Hopwood v. University of Texas Law School, ended all considerations of race in admissions, recruitment, and scholarships at the undergraduate and graduate school level at all public institutions under its jurisdiction (i.e., Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana). In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 209, a ballot initiative that also eliminated affirmative action in education, employment, and contracting throughout the state. And, the University of Michigan faced legal challenges in 2003 to both its undergraduate and law school admissions policies that give consideration to race/ethnicity.

 

Recent College Access Research

Research Item Statement on the Development of the Brief of American Social Science Researchers in Fisher v. University of Texas
We hope that this brief will be of use to other parties participating in all American colleges and to the justices and the clerks themselves. Hundreds of experts have participated in this important effort to communicate what is known about the obstacles to and the conditions for achieving successfully diverse campuses that can best prepare young Americans to live and work in an extremely multiracial future.
Research Item California: A Case Study in the Loss of Affirmative Action
Notwithstanding the initial commitment to educate “all portions” of the state’s youth, underrepresented minorities (URMs) have never achieved equal representation in the UC and their representation has declined since the mid-1990s just as their share of the state’s population has burgeoned.
Research Item The Impact of Affirmative Action Bans in Graduate Education
This report contributes to the mounting evidence about the detrimental effects bans on affirmative action have had on the representation of students of color in postsecondary education. Specifically, the bans in Texas, California, Washington, and Florida have reduced by about 12 percent the average proportion of graduate students of color across all the fields of graduate study included in the evaluation.
Research Item Dismantling College Opportunity in California
These studies released today call attention to the fact that cuts to higher education impact students, their families, CSU faculty, and staff well beyond the classroom. Reduction in access, retention, and increase in cost are disproportionately impacting traditionally underrepresented students, and are being felt within their personal lives.
Research Item The CSU Crisis and California's Future: Authors and Abstracts
These reports analyze the impact of the fiscal cutbacks on opportunity for higher education in the California State University system, the huge network of 23 universities that provides the bulk of bachelor-level education in the state. The CSU has a much larger undergraduate student body than the University of California system and educates a much larger group of Latino and African American students. Many CSU students are first-generation college students struggling to get an education in difficult times.
Research Item Financing College in Hard Times: Work and Student Aid
These are the third in a series of reports exploring the impact of California's fiscal crisis on the opportunities for underrepresented students in the California State University system. Although the Master Plan for Higher Education called for tuition-free affordable college for all qualified California students, the fiscal reality of California has led to the abandonment of that promise and rapidly rising tuition and other costs of college. Over the last decade, the California State University (CSU) has sustained a substantial decrease in state general funds and has offset these decreases by increasing tuition and fees by over 166 percent. In 1967 the state paid approximately 90% of a student’s education while today it pays approximately 64%. As costs associated with college rise for students, including housing and books, attending and financing college may become too difficult for students with the greatest financial need, the reports find, particularly the state’s majority of Latino and African American youth.
Research Item Two Studies of a Faculty in Crisis
These reports are the second in a series of independent original studies designed to analyze the impact of fiscal cutbacks in the CSU system on higher education opportunities. The Civil Rights Project is particularly interested in these issues because the CSU system is an extremely important pathway for opening opportunity to historically excluded groups of Latino, African American and poor students in California.
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