Public universities in California are barred from using race as a factor in admitting students, but a UCLA professor who once served on its admissions oversight team says he has proof they do it anyway.
While the first round of admissions consideration is handled fairly, African-American students are nearly three times as likely to make it out of the "maybe" pile than equally-qualified white students, and more than twice as likely as Asians, according to Tim Groseclose, a political science professor at the school and author of a new book titled, “Cheating: An Insider's Report on the Use of Race in Admissions at UCLA.”
“UCLA is using racial preferences in admissions,” Groseclose, who made his case using data from 2006-2009, told FoxNews.com.
After a first look results in most applications being either accepted or rejected, a handful of senior university staff sift through those marked for further consideration, according to Groseclose. That’s where the alleged bias happens. He found black applicants were accepted at a 43 percent rate in the second round, while whites were accepted at a 15 percent rate and Asians at an 18 percent rate.
"All of the cheating was done by the senior staff,” Groseclose said.
“UCLA is using racial preferences in admissions.”
- Tim Groseclose, UCLA political science professor
And race outweighs socioeconomic status, according to Groseclose. For instance, black applicants whose families had incomes exceeding $100,000 were about twice as likely to be accepted in round two as Asian and white kids whose families make just $30,000 and had similar test scores, grades and essays.
UCLA spokesman Ricardo Vazquez told FoxNews.com that the school “will not address specific assertions made by Prof. Groseclose,” but said “UCLA believes its admissions process to be fair, transparent and consistent with state law.”
Additionally, Vazquez pointed to a study on the issue that it commissioned, which was done by UCLA Sociology Prof. Robert Mare.
“An independent review of UCLA’s holistic review admissions process released in 2012 found no evidence of bias,” Vazquez said in an emailed statement.
But Groseclose said the report cited by Vazquez found that if admissions were truly race neutral, “245 more North Asian applicants would have been admitted, which would be almost a 9 percent increase… 121 fewer black applicants would have been admitted… [a 33 percent decrease].” It also found that whites and Hispanics benefited at Asians’ expense in the admissions process.
The university’s alleged law-breaking goes back to 2006, when students protested and demanded higher minority enrollment. Shortly after that, Groseclose said, the university’s chancellor met with him and other members of the university’s admissions oversight committee and urged them to find a way to increase diversity.
The next year, black enrollment nearly doubled. Groseclose, wondering if the university had illegally based admission on race, asked if he could look at the detailed admissions data. Administrators refused to give him the data for a year, but eventually turned it over after he invoked a state law that gave him a right to see the files.
Groseclose has posted the data on his website.
Groseclose believes there is a strong case for a lawsuit to be filed by people who think they were discriminated against, but says UCLA is hardly unique.
“I think this is common – not just the racial preferences, but also the lying,” he said.
While California is one of eight states that do not allow race to affect admissions decisions, the rest do. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court held that states are free to prohibit the use of racial considerations in university admissions, upholding Michigan’s constitutional amendment banning affirmative action. But advocates say achieving racial diversity in student bodies is critical.
“I support affirmative action because engaging with racial diversity during the college years enhances student learning and prepares students for citizenship in a diverse democracy,” Julie Park, assistant professor of education at the University of Maryland and author of the book “When Diversity Drops,” told FoxNews.com.
“I also support it because student merit is more than just SAT scores,” she added.
But others say affirmative action backfires.
“When students’… level of academic preparation is substantially lower than that of their classmates, a wide range of unrebutted, peer-reviewed research shows that they learn less,” Richard Sander, author of “Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It's Intended to Help,” told FoxNews.com.
Groseclose agrees, but acknowledges that the position is unpopular in California. He has since decided to leave for a job at George Mason University in Virginia, beginning this summer.
“Within academia, there are just certain things you must say are true, even if you know they're false," he said. "Academia needs a major shakeup.”