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(U-WIRE) BERKELEY, Calif.--University of California Regent Ward Connerly, who pushed forward the university's affirmative action repeal two years ago, now wants to take names off UC applications before they are processed to mask applicants' race.
The idea has drawn fire from admissions officials, who say that the mechanisms for such a process would be unwieldy and that it will be impossible to examine prospective students' personal experiences while ignoring their race and gender.
"A guy named Jamal Washington is probably a black guy," Connerly said. "The culture of the university is deeply committed to the notion of affirmative action," he added.
"They will find every proxy they can to 'promote diversity,' and the closest proxy possible is the person's name."
Connerly said he wanted to strip applications of names starting with applications for admission to the 1997-98 academic year, which will be available to high schools in November. If Connerly's proposal wins the approval of the Board of Regents, university officials would have only two months to come up with a new application.
Connerly said he felt the best way to ensure an entirely blind admissions process, in accordance with the UC Board of Regents decision to eliminate affirmative action, is to keep the process anonymous. Major public institutions, such as the University of Texas, are taking steps to eliminate ethnic data from their applications, but no major university has taken names off the applications.
"The question here is are the readers going to consciously or subconsciously consider the names as a proxy for their race," Connerly added.
He said an anonymous process would take "every opportunity for mischief off the plate."
But Regent Alice Gonzales, who supports the race and gender preferences repeal, said that she and other board members would have a hard time swallowing Connerly's proposal.
"I think we are entitled to our name or gender whether we are applying to a job or public institution," Gonzales said. "Not that we should be given a preference, but I think we are entitled to our name."
UC Berkeley Director of Admissions Bob Laird said in an interview three weeks ago that creating a completely anonymous admissions process is almost impossible.
"People will make assumptions, whether they're correct or not," Laird said. "We will simply have to execute the law faithfully and get answers to some of the very complicated dilemmas.
"I think there's a basic policy question about whether there is a feeling of being erased, or some part of you is being erased, if you are not allowed to identify that part of yourself, or to talk about that part of yourself," he added.
Rae Lee Siporin, UCLA's director of admissions, said Connerly could not have been serious about his proposal. "I think (Connerly's) statement is symbolic, unless he intends to have a whole group of people with black pens marking out the personal statements, the clubs and the associations," she said.
Siporin said Connerly's proposal contradicts the UC system's attempts to reform its admissions process by taking more personal factors into account.
She said taking names from admissions makes the process impersonal and sends a negative message. "There is some kind of belief that things can be done numerically and that is a fallacy. It doesn't work that way," Siporin added.
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