The University of California at San Diego is a DEI stronghold, and things are about to get worse. Starting next year, students who choose “selective” majors such as computer science, bioengineering, and aerospace engineering—high achievers, in other words—will face more discrimination. As civil rights attorney James Breslo explains, the “primary determiner” for admission to these programs “will be the status of the students’ parents.”

For selective majors, UCSD “awards one point each for having a 3.0 GPA or higher in the major screening courses; California residency; Pell Grant eligibility; and first-generation college status (as determined by information received at the time of initial admission to UC San Diego).” The University of California admits the top tier of the state’s high-school students, so a 3.0 GPA is no problem. On the other hand, as Breslo notes, “half of the criteria is based upon the student’s parents,” so their income, college record, and so forth is the determining factor, not the grades and aptitudes of the student.

“The reason for the new policy is pretty obvious,” contends the attorney. “It will advantage black and Latino students, and disadvantage white and Asians,” the latter a group “already overrepresented” on campus. Breslo also sees the move as an end-run around the Supreme Court’s decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, which specifically addressed discrimination against Asians. As UC officials have forgotten, California has already addressed discrimination against all students.

As Breslo recalls, “In 1996, Californians voted, 55 to 45 percent, to ban the use of affirmative action in admissions to state schools and in state employment.” The attorney is right about the numbers but somewhat misleading on the issue.

The UC system had discriminated on the basis of race for decades, as demonstrated in the landmark case of Allan Bakke. The California Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI), Proposition 209 on the November 1996 ballot, banned “racial preferences” in state college admissions, employment, and contracting. Schools could still take affirmative action to help students on an economic basis but could no longer discriminate on the basis of race and ethnicity.

In 2010, the state Supreme Court upheld the measure, and, as Hoover Institution scholar Thomas Sowell notes in Intellectuals and Race, the number of African-American and Hispanic students graduating from the UC system went up, including a 55 percent increase in those graduating in four years with a GPA of 3.5 or higher. Critics still claimed that the civil rights initiative somehow harmed “diversity,” which often escapes definition.

As college bosses see it, if the UC system does not reflect the ethnic proportions of the population, the reason must be deliberate discrimination, remedied only by the type of racial preferences imposed before 1996. The problem is that proportionality dogma is not found in the U.S. or California constitutions, in state law, or in reality. As Sowell has often noted, nowhere in society are people found in their proportions in the population at large.

Diversity dogma fails to account for personal differences, effort, and choice. No group is “overrepresented” at the University of California or anywhere else, and the more high achievers the better. The DEI bureaucrats serve no purpose, and the UCSD parent ploy is another violation of the California Civil Rights Initiative, which is state law.

In 2020, an axis of politicians and government bureaucrats tried to repeal CCRI through Proposition 16. The people kept it in place by a margin of 57.3 to 42.77, as Breslo notes, an even wider margin than 1996’s. For parents, students, and taxpayers across the country, the lessons should be clear.

Beware of back-door discrimination schemes such as California’s parent ploy. Student achievement, and nothing else, should be the primary determiner for so-called selective majors. Raise standards in K–12, keep the SAT, and never confuse the people of California with the state’s woke ruling class.

To maintain civil rights and boost student achievement, get a measure like the original California Civil Rights Initiative before the voters of your state.