Civil rights lawyers said white students should be able to sue California Polytechnic State University for racial discrimination after the school confirmed it would take deliberate steps to decrease its proportion of white students.
Al Rava, an attorney from San Diego, California, said Cal Poly San Luis Obispo could be sued under the state’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, while speaking with The Daily Caller News Foundation. The Unruh Civil Rights Act entitles all California residents to “full and equal” benefits in all state business establishments, irrespective of their race.
“Cal Poly is part of the State of California education system, i.e., Cal Poly is a governmental entity, therefore it can be sued for violating the equal protection clauses of the California Constitution and the U.S. Constitution,” Rava told TheDCNF.
The school announced the creation of two scholarships directed at recruiting “African American and other underrepresented minorities” in a May letter to its student body.
“There are scholarship donors who specifically want their gift to support under-represented students attending Cal Poly,” school spokeswoman Cynthia Lambert told TheDCNF. These donors are directed to the California Community Foundation (CCF), a private foundation, which then administers and selects students based on donor criteria.
“If you say that some groups are underrepresented, then you are necessarily saying that other groups are overrepresented,” Center for Equal Opportunity president and general counsel Roger Clegg told TheDCNF. “That’s simple logic. And if you are trying to achieve a predetermined racial and ethnic mix through your official policies, then I think it follows from that that you are engaging in discrimination.”
“Any time you try to set a quota and achieve it, you are inevitably going to end up discriminating.”
Clegg noted that students could sue Cal Poly under Proposition 209, which forbids discrimination in California on the basis of race. The Center for Equal Opportunity president stated that discrimination also applies to recruitment efforts that disproportionately favor certain individuals on the basis of race, e.g. sending admission officers to or keeping them from visiting schools with certain ethnic compositions or advertising on radio stations to which certain races listen more or less frequently.
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo stated its white student population dropped from 63 percent to under 55 percent from 2011 to 2017, but the school noted it wanted this proportion to come closer to the state’s percentage of whites, which sits at 39.7 percent. (RELATED: Cal Poly Wants Fewer White Students, Flouts Trump’s Race-Based Admission Repeal)
“Absolutely not,” Rava said, when asked whether matching a school’s racial demographics to those of the state in which it operates would be favorable. “Just like I don’t want California to license X number of physicians or attorneys each year based solely on matching the State’s racial demographics, instead of based on merit.”
“Plus, that would only open the door to a lot of fraud and other mischief,” he noted. “For example, I can visualize a lot of applicants with high cheekbones falsely claiming to be an American Indian in order to be admitted or gain acceptance, a la Elizabeth Warren.”
Rava estimated that if Cal Poly had denied admission to 3,000 white people also addressed the tag-team rescission by the Departments of Education and Justice of seven race-based admission guidelines in July.
“President Trump’s rescission of Obama’s discriminatory admission guidelines will likely cause many of the elitist liberal universities like Harvard, Yale, and the University of California system to purposely ignore the new guidelines to invite further litigation and hope they get a friendly judge or Court of Appeals panel to rule in the schools’ favor,” the attorney remarked.
Clegg compared Cal Poly’s admissions to Harvard University’s admissions, which made headlines in 2018 for alleged discrimination against Asian-American applicants. (RELATED: Harvard Docked Asian American Applicants For Personality, Lawsuit Alleges)
“I think that Harvard’s going to lose … but I would also say that I think that, unfortunately, federal law allows more racial discrimination in university admissions than Proposition 209 does. … I think that California public universities have a higher standard that they have to meet.”
But Cal Poly insists its stated desire to bring its school’s racial demographics more in line with those of the state — an effort that would require decreasing the proportion of white students — does not require racial discrimination in the admissions process.
“The university has not, does not, and will not consider race or ethnicity in the admissions process,” Cal Poly spokesman Matt Lazier told KSBY.
“Cal Poly seeks to expand its pool of applicants so that it includes the broadest possible range of qualified prospective students,” Lambert told TheDCNF. “However, the admissions process is and will remain merit based.”
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