Photo by Neeta Lind

‘How close to zero do they want us to get?’ Students of color under attack! We will not be silenced!

Photo by Neeta Lind

*Editor’s note: This article was prepared  by collaborator’s from these nine mother organizations who have chosen to voice their opinion in light of recent events.

This is a statement in response to the news article and opinion column that were published in the Daily Bruin on Tuesday, which aimed to undermine the integrity of the holistic admissions process at UCLA while also making the broader statement that certain communities of color do not deserve to be on this campus. As an immediate response, cultural organizations on campus attempted to cooperatively collaborate with the Daily Bruin by requesting a platform to showcase a student perspective outside of the views expressed by Daily Bruin staffers. However, in the process, we have been unfairly denied the opportunity to do so. As students to this University and as residents of this country, we all pay student fees, and respect freedom of speech and freedom of the press. As students we also have the right and duty to think critically. It is because of these issues that the journalistic integrity of the Daily Bruin should be called into question. On the corner of every opinion page of the Daily Bruin, it states that there is a policy “prohibiting the publication of articles that perpetuate derogatory cultural or ethnic stereotypes”. Thus, it is problematic that  reckless language was used in the opinion piece. Claims that “minorities constitute an undue percentage of the freshman class”, and the suggestion for UCLA to “correct the iniquities” or immoral and grossly unfair behavior that the writer states “Sander seems to have uncovered”, are a complete violation, and as communities of color and allies, we are speaking out to say that we feel attacked and it is not OK! Thus, the following is our statement about the claims presented in the Daily Bruin:

 The personal and academic contributions of underrepresented groups at UCLA, more specifically of Black/Afrikan and Chicana/o, Latina/o students, were attacked in two articles published by The Daily Bruin on October 23, 2012.

In the article, “Findings by law professor suggest that UCLA Admissions may be violating Prop 209,” the author notes that an unpublished report by Professor Sander suggests holistic admissions are unlawful.  Further, Eitan Arom’s opinion piece, “Admissions disparity calls for review of system,” argues in favor of Sander’s report and demands for a new evaluation of the admissions process which is currently Holistic Review.

Both Sanders and Arom suggest that UCLA may be violating Proposition 209 through its utilization of the Holistic Admissions process. However, from an analytical standpoint, Sander’s argument is entirely flawed. First, Sander collected admissions data and comprised them into two groups: one group of admissions numbers between 2004 and 2006 before the holistic admissions process was implemented and another group of numbers between 2007 and 2009. Sander uses this data to assert that discrimination is occurring after the holistic scores are generated through the supplemental review application. The number of Black and Latina/o students increased, not because race was included, but because Holistic Admissions guaranteed that all students would receive a more personalized analysis in the process. Under the previous Comprehensive Review, readers would judge standardized scores separately from personal achievements; under the Holistic process academic achievement is reviewed in light of opportunities. Nonetheless, Sander’ analysis also does not include admissions data from recent years (2010-2012), which is necessary to analyze the long-term, current, and ongoing effects of UCLA’s holistic admissions policy.

Sander’s statement that admission officials “seem to be making discriminatory decisions with lots of black and Hispanic students with poor holistic scores being admitted” is extremely troubling. As a public institution, the University of California has a responsibility to educate the residents of this state. According to Professor Sander “lots of black and Hispanic students” are being admitted, yet he fails to recognize that although the students of color are applying to UCLA in significant numbers, the number of admitted students of color has remained more or less constant for the past years. According to official 2012 admissions data, 201 of 4,000 entering students from CA were Black, 1,011 Latino/a, 1,900 Asian and 1,330 white or Caucasian.

Particularly analyzing admit rates between 2007 and 2009, according to the University of California stat finder (UCOP), the overall admit rate of African-Americans applicants has decreased from 16.5 percent to 15.1 percent. Both Sander and Arom conveniently downplay the principal findings of the Mare study, an independent report examining UCLA’s implementation of holistic review, which explicitly states that “Mare’s report found no evidence of bias in UCLA’s admissions process [and that] academic merit holds the highest weight in an applicants review process”.

Students are placed on supplemental review usually because their academic achievements may have been curtailed due to personal unavoidable circumstances or if they have expressed an extraordinary talent in their application. The University allows these students the opportunity to further explain their situation and how they have grown from it. If students choose to return the additional information, readers are given a clearer picture of the student’s ability to succeed at UCLA.

Both Sander and Arom argue that the supplemental review process is “simply a smokescreen behind which race preferences can go unobstructed.” But as Associate Vice Chancellor Youlanda Copeland-Morgan has stated, the fundamental issue is that underrepresented students are more likely to face social and economic difficulties that would require further review. Sander and Arom may nitpick the fact that more students of color are admitted through the supplemental review process, but this policy is used by countless other prestigious Universities. Other institutions understand that students are individuals with struggles and ambitions, not just a standardized number.

In addition, the discourse Sander uses is an attempt to pit Asian students against Black and Latino/a students. By placing them on the same side as Whites, Sanders tries to argue that Holistic Admissions negatively affects Asian students’ access to UCLA. The author notes, “According to Sander’s analysis, there is a much higher percentage of black and Hispanic students who are offered admissions than Caucasian and Asian students among students who are assigned the same ‘mid-range’ holistic score.” Since Sander has not made his official report available, we are unsure if he categorizes all Asian-American Pacific Islander applicants within the same category, or if he looks at each ethnic/cultural background differently. The AAPI community in the United States is the most diverse racial group in regards to socioeconomic status and educational attainment. Contrary to Sander’s feckless arguments, Holistic Admissions helps underserved and underrepresented Asian American students. As a result, admissions readers are able to weigh the educational opportunities available to lower income, usually Southeast Asian Americans.

In light of the fact that Black students comprise merely 5% of the entering student body, we find Sander’s assertion that too many Black students are being wrongfully accepted to UCLA as outright offensive. Both Sander and Arom conveniently downplay the principal findings of the Mare study, an independent report examining UCLA’s implementation of holistic review, which explicitly states that “Mare’s report found no evidence of bias in UCLA’s admissions process.” We recommend that both Sander and Arom read the Mare study in its entirety, approximately 160 pages, instead of running opinions based solely on speculation.

We want the UCLA campus to recognize that this is not an isolated event and many like these, in the past, have stirred feelings of anxiety for many students of color on campus who have been consistently told that their entrance into the university is a mistake or some sort of handout. Even more alarming is that we are receiving these messages from members of UCLA faculty and staff. We saw these sorts of attacks last year with the comments from economics Professor Matthew Kahn when he published an article in The Christian Science Monitor attacking transfer students for hurting public universities’ elitist status because he believed they are less likely to donate money to the university.

Sander’s  comments and poor research clearly represents the ideology that exists among a number of UCLA faculty and staff and that is  the belief that students of color, students from low-income backgrounds, and who are non-traditional are taking the spots from others. We fear, as students of color, that these same attitudes are permeating through this school and into our classrooms as evident by the opinions expressed by Eitan Arom.

This conversation comes at a paramount time in history where important Supreme Court decisions like Fisher v. University of Texas could possibly be detrimental to the legal and social realization and necessity of diversity on many college campuses nationwide.

Many student leaders on campus are aware that our numbers at this university are minute and in the coming weeks we will be making a concerted and collective effort to ensure that our numbers continue to rise by attending and assisting at college preparedness workshops for inner-city students in the Los Angeles Unified School District. We will be outreaching to these students during our spare time to make sure their faces are seen on this University’s campus. Moreover, to raise awareness about the contributions of students of color on this campus, we will be organizing ‘A Day Without an Educated Student of Color’ Action and Rally which will be held this upcoming Monday in Meyerhoff Park/Free Speech Zone (lawn outside Kerckhoff) from 12pm-1pm.

The struggle for equal opportunity is not a struggle exclusive to one or two groups of peoples but rather, it affects everyone. Black and Latino students are not the only groups affected by these claims as this is the beginning of a disturbing nationwide trend, where historically underprivileged students of all backgrounds are being pushed out of institutions of higher education.

As students of color at this university, we ask the critical question: whose culture has capital? We challenge all  UCLA students, staff, and faculty to shift away from the deficit view of Communities of Color as places full of cultural poverty disadvantages, and instead focus on and learn from the array of cultural knowledge, skills, abilities, and contacts possessed by socially marginalized groups that often go unrecognized and unacknowledged. These forms of capital draw on the knowledges students of color bring with them from their homes and communities into the classroom. And thus, this approach to education involves a commitment to develop universities that acknowledge the multiple strengths of Communities of Color in order to serve a larger purpose of struggle toward social and racial justice.

First they came for the socialists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.

 

In Struggle and Solidarity,

Afrikan Student Union at UCLA        MEChA de UCLA

Samahang Pilipino                             Muslim Student Association

Asian Pacific Coalition                       Vietnamese Student Union

Queer Alliance                                    American Indian Student Association

Pacific Islander Student Association

 

Sleep Dealer: An Immigration Solution?

When it comes to literature and cinema, I have to say that I’ve never truly appreciated the genre of science-fiction as much as I do now. Why the sudden change? Well, it was actually a very controversial topic that brought me to the futuristic/fantasy world, and that was: immigration. Okay, so now you’re probably wondering: what does science-fiction have to do with immigration anyhow? And that’s the problem right there. Read more

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Gudiño in Mexico

Roberto Gudiño is on an adventure in Mexico City experiencing El Grito de la Independencia and the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacan. But it is not all tourist attractions for this 2012 UCLA MFA graduate from Department of Film, Television and Digital Media. Roberto is living in Mexico for the next 10 months as part of the COMEXUS/Fulbright-García Robles Fellowship.

Before his trip, Roberto took the time to sit down with La Gente to talk about his UCLA experience and what he hopes to accomplish in the upcoming year.

 

La Gente: Where did you grow up, and where did you complete your undergrad?

Roberto Gudiño: I grew up in a border town called Douglas, Arizona and I attended the U of A (University of Arizona). I graduated with a degree in film production.

 

LG: When did you decide to go to graduate school?

RG: Well, I was a part of the McNair achievement program. I got involved with that in my junior year and it’s funny because I didn’t even know what graduate school was before the program. I don’t come from a privileged background and at the time I had just moved to Tucson. My mom sent me a big stack of mail including a brochure from the U of A and what caught my eye was “$3,000 stipend for summer research.” I thought, I don’t know what I need to do but I need those $3,000 dollars. I looked into it and applied. Thank God I got in and it changed my life. When I knew what graduate school was I really wanted it, and it definitely made my life better. I found great mentors there and they guided me for two years to prepare me for graduate school.

 

LG: Why did you choose UCLA?

RG: One of my mentors, Mary Beth Haralovich, knew Bill McDonald who at the time was the head of cinematography at UCLA. During your second McNair summer you spend the time at the institution where you want to go to graduate school. I approached Bill and he agreed to be my summer mentor, and Cherie Francis who is the head of graduate division of fellowships, set it up so I could be housed here. It was a collaboration between the U of A and UCLA in terms of finding a mentor and having housing, and the Mcnair program was backing me in terms of funding for being out here because I couldn’t afford it, and in preparation of grad school. Once I was here I fell in love with the film program, the campus, my mentor and there was no other school I wanted to go to and it has been probably the best five years my life.

 

LG: What has made your time at UCLA great?

RG: Well outside the film department, which has been great, another thing that enriched me is being a part of Hermanos Unidos. I would say halfway through my graduate career I felt something was missing. I wasn’t sure what it was but I came to realize that I wanted to speak in Spanish and I wanted to be immersed in my culture. I couldn’t find that in my department because there are not many minorities or Latinos in film production. So I proactively went out looking for opportunities to meet other young Latinos in higher education and I found it with Hermanos. It has been a great two years with them. I started fall of 2011 and the guys who got me in were Jose Valenzuela and Steve Montes. This year I ended up being voted alumni liaison and made a few efforts in getting alumni involved.

 

LG: What have been some of those efforts?

RG: We were able to get Daniel Gonzalez to come give us our plática. During our meeting we have pláticas that deal with issues that Latinos face and not just male Latinos; HU is very inclusive so we have six lady hermanos and its open to all races. So we have pláticas every meeting once a week, and once a month an alumni will give a plática and some of these issues deal with cultural identity, how to find a career after UCLA, and Latinos in the workplace. We also started a bi-monthly newsletter, which reaches out to alumni and talks about special events that we have.

 

LG: What are some of the efforts Hermanos make on campus?

RG: We had two hermanos start a new initiative called the Janitor Appreciation dinner. So Hermanos host a dinner for janitors on campus just as a token of appreciation for their efforts of hard work because oftentimes their work is unseen although they are ubiquitous. They are everywhere, but the invisible worker.

 

LG: Your short film, “The Groundskeeper,” has the same message. Can you discuss how you developed the idea for it?

RG: I shot that my first year as film student here. Just being on campus I kind of felt that you know people wouldn’t necessarily acknowledge some of the maintenance people that would be in the buildings and not necessarily in a condescending way, but they were just invisible workers and didn’t feel the need to engage with them. If you think about it, they are just like you and me. Some of them don’t necessarily work as maintenance people because that is what they wanted for their career. They might have certain limitations either language or education and a lot of those people who work in maintenance might reflect some of our family in terms of skill set. I know my mom doesn’t speak English very well, and she can write it ok. I don’t know if she would feel comfortable being in certain positions. Even writing in English I don’t know if she would feel comfortable doing that, and so my mom has worked as a maintenance person. I think a lot of Hermanos, Hermanas, and other Latinos here on campus and their families have had to do various blue-collar jobs. Even in my hometown my mother worked at a canning factory. A lot of those things you carry around with you unconsciously.

 

LG: Can you talk about the premise of “The Groundskeeper?”

RG: The movie is about a UCLA maintenance man who has a special connection with a Caucasian professor but the relationship can’t continue because of social norms. So it was kind of speaking to that, speaking to the invisible divide.

 

LG: Congratulations on being selected as a Fulbright Scholar. What type of work will you be doing in Mexico City?

RG: I am very blessed to have gotten it and very grateful to Jozen Gibson who is my Fulbright adviser here at UCLA. I am very grateful to the people who helped me. Jozen, Cherie, the graduate writing center, my recommendation letter writers, and Ronald Bend, an alum who helps people write their personal statements. A lot of people are behind this and I’m very blessed to be going. I’ll be working with an organization called Jóvenes en Acción sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the Secretaría de Educación Pública (The Secretariat of Public Education) of the Mexican Government, and another group at the Universidad Latinoamericana (Latinamerican University) and they work with disadvantaged youth in Mexico City. I’ll be teaching film production workshops and the intent is to teach disadvantaged youth film production in terms of camera and lighting. On multiple levels, one is to help them find their voice and two, is to potentially help them find a career path in film production, for example as electricians and gapers. In terms of youth it’s kind of open, some are out of high school but there will be middle school and high school students. We will help give them access to tools. I am going to have my own cameras and lights and potentially writing scripts together informed by our experiences together by stories they might have. They can be co-written or I can write them but a big thing in terms of production is to collaborate with colleagues from UCLA if my film production colleagues come to Mexico to help shoot some shorts it can form a cultural bridge between the US and Mexico, specifically students at UCLA and students in Mexico. I have been able to express my own voice and that will be part of my mission in Mexico City is to help youth discover their own voices and see that there is a platform for them to express themselves and help them develop. I also hope to learn from them.

 

 

Roberto would like to share his experience with La Gente readers. He will be releasing a video log every week or two of his time in Mexico. You can check out the video blog and more of his work including the short film “The Groundskeeper” at his website, robertogudino.com.

 

You can also email Roberto at roberto.gudino@fulbright.org