Sunday, May 14, 1995

A backlash in Berkeley

Few issues are as thorny as Affirmative Action. 

Shouldn't society give a boost to African Americans, who have been held behind as a people by centuries of slavery and another century of Jim Crow and persistent poverty? 

But when that translates to preferential treatment in admissions to college, to take one of the most difficult battlegrounds, doesn't that lead to more unfairness, to those of other races who possess good qualifications but are denied entry? And might the boost not do some harm to the beneficiary, coming with an innate message that "you aren't good enough, without the handicap."

These issues played out in a convoluted way at the University of California in the 1990s. Once the center of leftist student radicalism, the university now became a spearhead to undo affirmative action.

I went out to Berkeley to write about it. A week after my front-page story appeared, the article was lauded by columnist Jonathan Yardley in the Washington Post, who called it "a balanced, comprehensive report."

(Please click on images to enlarge)

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