Students demand increase of Latino, African American students at UC Berkeley

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- A small group of middle school students from Berkeley and Oakland rallied Monday at UC Berkeley to demand more representation of Hispanics and African Americans on campus. With years to go before entering college, these students are concerned they may never get in given the current admissions rate.

The students are asking Cal to take the smartest students from every school in Oakland and Berkeley because they said that would increase the number of Latino and African Americans.

UC Berkeley officials said no because of Proposition 209.

"We're demanding that this institution admit more black and Latino students," one woman said.

The Oakland and Berkeley public school students were at Cal to shed light on the low number of Hispanic and black students there.

Of the more than 27,000 undergraduate students at UC Berkeley, 39 percent are Asians, 26 percent Caucasian, Latinos represent 14 percent and African Americans represent 3 percent. "Their hopes are pretty much diminished based on when they look around. We've counted seven people of color in the last hour," teacher Andrew D. said

Stephanie Garcia is a Cal student who decided to support the students. "It's honestly not fair when 50 percent of California's actual population is black and Latino," she said.

African American students at UC Berkeley have tried to put pressure on the administration to increase their numbers. "I know there are way more than 3 percent of smart black people around here that can get into Berkeley, there's way more," UC Berkeley student Nuredin Indris said.

"It's definitely uncomfortable sitting in the classrooms where I am literally the only black woman in a class or there's only three of us," UC Berkeley student Karen Kwaning said.

Part of the problem has been California's voter-approved Proposition 209, which banned race-based admissions as well as outreach.

UC Berkeley recently came up with the African American initiative to try to increase the numbers without going against Proposition 209. In the initiative, there is a $20 million scholarship for African Americans funded by private and non-profit organizations. "So we can recruit and get the yield, so that when they are offered admission, they can actually come here," Janet Gilmore said.

Some of these students hope they will be the beneficiaries of that initiative.
Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.