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A University of California regents committee voted Wednesday to adopt a new admissions policy that would take into account any personal hardships a prospective student had to overcome. The move to look at more than grades and test scores comes six years after the university system eliminated race-based affirmative action. The 13-2 vote sends the issue to the full Board of Regents today, when it is expected to be approved. The policy, known as comprehensive review, involves looking at grades and test scores plus such things as whether a student overcame poverty or has special talents or did well in a bad school. It has been criticized as a covert way of reviving race-based admissions, now banned by state law, though supporters maintain it is race-neutral. The regents added an amendment to the policy saying it would not be used to inject race into the admissions process. Comprehensive review already is being used to admit some students to UC’s eight undergraduate campuses. But the campuses are currently restricted to admitting at least 50 percent of their students on the basis of 10 academic criteria. Comprehensive review adds four more criteria, including such things as whether the student pushed himself or overcame adversity. Proponents said the switch, already approved by the UC faculty, sends a message to California high school students that they can get into UC if they make the most of their opportunities. “I have always felt that there has to be a better way than just looking at numbers of a person,” said Regent Sherry Lansing. Critics said the plan could make the admissions process a little less fair. “We’re rushing this through in order to have it in place by next year and I think that is ill-advised,” said Regent Ward Connerly, who led the fight against affirmative action. “I think it’s going to subject this university to an untold amount of disrespect, litigation and questions about the credibility of the process.” After race-blind admissions went into effect, enrollment of blacks and Hispanics tumbled. The figures have rebounded since then, but there has been a reshuffling, with more blacks and Hispanics going to lesser-known campuses such as UC-Riverside and fewer going to Berkeley and UCLA. UC officials said the new policy is not back-door affirmative action, in part because race is taken off applications before they are reviewed. They said they do not expect the ethnic composition of freshmen classes at any of the campuses to change substantially. Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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