The Trump administration rescinded Obama-era affirmative action guidelines on July 3. These guidelines, which served as the federal suggestion for how colleges should factor race in admissions, were largely seen as a push to diversify higher education.
The decision returned affirmative action guidelines to the George W. Bush era and signals that the administration will support race-blind admissions standards.
Since only guidelines were altered, not affirmative action law, this change will mostly affect how the government deals with race-related admissions complaints, not how colleges will deal with admissions. Even if these rescinded guidelines cause some colleges to reconsider race-conscious admissions, Cal Poly will not be one of them. As a public California university, Cal Poly is prevented from considering race in the admissions process.
Why Cal Poly doesn’t have affirmative action
California State University (CSU) spokesperson Elizabeth Chapin explained the CSU admissions process.
“Ethnicity does not factor into the decision process, which in the vast majority of cases is solely based on grades and test scores,” Chapin wrote. “Although applicants are asked to list ethnicity on their college application, it is used for reporting purposes only and does not factor into the decision process.”
All public universities in California do not consider race in their admissions process due to California law. Proposition 209, which was added to the state constitution in 1996, prohibits state governmental institutions from considering race, ethnicity or sex within public education, public employment or public contracting.
Lack of diversity at Cal Poly
Cal Poly is the least ethnically diverse public school in California. Less than one percent of the student body is black, while 54.8 percent is white. Only 17 black students accepted admission offers to Cal Poly for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year.
While a lack of diversity has always been an issue for Cal Poly, it received notably more attention during the 2017-2018 school year. #ThisIsCalPoly protests occurred on campus and in downtown San Luis Obispo in response to multiple racist actions, including a student wearing blackface, and the overall lack of diversity on campus.