By Nicole Everett

Several hundred protesters assembled outside the UC Board of Regents meeting at UC Los Angeles yesterday, demanding the board to reverse the trend of a declining number of minority students entering the UC system.

While UCSB itself has become more diverse, other campuses such as UC Berkeley have seen over a 2 percent decrease in the enrollment of African Americans and Chicano/Latino students since voters passed Proposition 209 in 1996. The proposition prohibits public institutions from discriminating on the basis of race, sex or ethnicity.

Among other demands, protestors petitioned the Regents to allocate $33 million to University academic preparation programs and to elect four more student representatives to the UC Study Group on University Diversity [[ok]].

Their concerns were shared by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People at the Regents’ September meeting. Representatives from the organization said the low number of African American applicants to the UC was unacceptable.

However, Chancellor Henry T. Yang said there are more minority students on the UCSB campus this year than in previous years and that numbers have been climbing since Prop 209 passed.

“Over the past ten years, the number of Chicano, Latino, African American and American Indian students has increased steadily, from 14 percent in 1994 to 20.2 percent this year,” Yang said.

Prop 209, also called the California Civil Rights Initiative, was written and supported by then-UC Regent Ward Connerly. It essentially prohibits affirmative action, which permits preferential treatment on the basis of sex, race, color, ethnicity or national origin in order to raise the numbers of these minority groups in organizations or schools.

According to UC Office of the President diversity statistics, the percentage of enrolled UCSB white, African American and Chicano/Latino students has experienced only slight fluctuations in the last 10 years, ultimately increasing the enrollment of Chicano/Latino students and decreasing the percentage of white students.

In 1998, the year Prop 209 went into effect, UCSB, during Fall Quarter, reported 58.2 percent white students, 2.6 percent African American and 13.6 percent Chicano/Latino students. In 2001, 56.2 percent of registered students were white, 2.5 percent were African American and 14.7 percent were Chicano/Latino. This year, 52.4 percent of the undergraduate population is white, 2.7 percent is African American and 18.6 identifies as Chicano/Latino.

As compared to the last California Census in 2000, 59.5 percent of the population identified as white, 6.7 percent were African American or black, and 32.4 were Hispanic or Latino.

At UCLA, the statistics appear to be consistent on the part of the white and Chicano/Latino populations, while the percentage of African American students decreased from 1998 by 2.2 percent. In 1995, African American students comprised 6.6 percent of the undergraduate student body.

According to a UCLA press release, the reasons for a decrease in the amount of African American students were the implementation of Prop 209 and the increase in the competitiveness of admissions.

In 1998, the percentage of undergraduate white students was 32.8 percent, while African Americans were 5.4 percent and Chicano/Latino totaled 15.5 percent. In 2001, the student body was 33.8 percent white, 3.7 percent African American and 14 percent Chicano/Latino. Statistics for 2006 were not available, but for 2005, 33.6 percent was white, 3.2 percent was African American and 15.3 percent was Chicano/Latino.

Berkeley also saw a decrease in the percentage of African American students from 1995 to 2005 by 2.2 percent. In the past 10 years, the percentage of Chicano/Latino students has decreased by 2.9 percent. Between 1998 and 2001, there was a decrease of 1.5 percent.

In 1998, the percentage of white undergrads at Berkeley totaled 30.2 percent, while African Americans comprised 5.2 percent and Chicano/Latino was 11.3 percent. In 2001, whites made up 30.7 percent of the student body, while African Americans were 3.7 percent and Chicano/Latinos were 9.3 percent. The percentage of whites at Berkeley in 2005 was 31 percent, while 3.5 percent were African American and 10.6 percent were Chicano/Latino.

One of the goals of the UC Study Group on University Diversity, formed earlier this year, is to increase minority enrollment.

Yang was appointed in September to be part of this group, along with Associated Students External Vice President of Statewide Affairs Bill Shiebler. Several other UC chancellors are part of the group, which is co-chaired by Board of Regents Chairman Gerald Parksy and UC Provost and Executive Vice President Rory Hume.

Yang said the objective of the group is to create a series of programs, organizations and studies that would further increase minority enrollment in the UC system. He said the group will survey UC undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty members about gender and racial diversity on campus.

Shiebler said the group’s programs are a good start toward fixing the problem, but more effort is necessary in order to increase UC minority enrollment and employment.

“If we went up 1 percent [in enrollment], that’s not success,” Shiebler said. “At the end of the day, everything that they are doing is not enough.”

Raymond Meza, a fourth-year political science major and A.S. Legislative Council member, said he supports the Study group’s initiative to increase the number of minorities on campus, and disagrees with Prop 209, which was passed in 1996 in California and upheld by courts ever since.

“Prop 209 has been a problem in the UC system, and needs to be addressed,” Meza said.

-Lindsey Miller contributed to this article.