CALIFORNIA—Several students are suing the University of California (UC) Regents for its test-optional admission policy, which they argue has a “tremendous lack of transparency” to admit discrimination.
Kawika Smith, a senior at Verbum Dei High School in Los Angeles, and the six organizations, College Access Plan, Little Manila Rising, Dolores Huerta Foundation, College Seekers, Chinese for Affirmative Action, and Community Coalition are listed as plaintiffs in the suit. They claim that the UC System creates obstacles for students of color and students with disabilities. The latest Opportunity Under Law’s legal action was filed on Wednesday, July 22.
Public Counsel attorney Amanda Savage explains that the original lawsuit was made by students and educational equity organizations who opposed to use of SAT and ACT scores in UC admissions processes in December 2019. In May 2020, the UC Board of Regents voted to wind down using SAT and ACT scores from the admission decisions and let standardized tests optional for the next two years and then test-blind.
The test-optional policy would not apply to scholarship determination for the next four years, and the guidance was not explained clearly to the public. Savage claims that the admission office will still utilize SAT and ACT scores until the test-blind policy is put into practice.
Rekha Radhakrishnan, a Public Counsel spokesperson indicated worry for students with disabilities who face difficulties finding testing sites owing to current distance education rules. Both Savage and Radhakrishnan agree that due to the pandemic, students of color and low-income students would have the disadvantage of receiving scholarships if SAT or ACT scores are taken into consideration during the admissions processes.
The UC Office of the President indicated in a statement to the Daily Californian:
“UC opposes this attempt to leverage the court system as a means of bypassing careful analysis and appropriate policy making by University officials. The University remains committed to enrolling a student body that reflects the broad diversity of cultural, racial, geographic, and socioeconomic backgrounds characteristic of California.”
Savage stated, “If anything, students are taking away the message that if they don’t test, they’ll be significantly worse off come fall, which I think is unfortunately correct.”