By Maya Bakshani
While administrators boast the increase of students of color at UC Santa Cruz, other members of the campus community say the school is still lacking in diversity.
Don Williams, director of the Center for Culture, Arts and Diversity, says he has been paying attention to diversity at UCSC since his arrival here 18 years ago.
"I definitely have a bird’s-eye view," Williams noted, because he is connected to both faculty and students on campus.
"As I look at the campus now, there is now a much more concerted effort to make the situation diverse, as far as students and faculty," Williams said. "However, we have a long way to go."
Williams, though, says he has noticed an increase in students of color on campus this year.
Students of color make up 43 percent of this year’s incoming first-year and transfer students, according to Associate Vice Chancellor Elizabeth Irwin. That means that this year UCSC will have the largest percent of minority first-year students in the history of UCSC.
Irwin also stressed the high level of achievement among these students.
"The average GPA of admitted freshman is 3.69," Irwin said. "So we have both excellence and diversity, which very much reflect the goals of Chancellor Denton and certainly continue to be a high priority for UC Santa Cruz as we move forward."
However optimistic the administrators may be, some students, such as fourth-year Bakhtar Ehsan, say they have not seen a drastic rise in diversity.
"I feel like year by year the number of students [of color] goes down," Ehsan said.
Karina Vasquez, a fourth-year Merrill student, agrees. "I’ve paid a lot of attention to the lack of diversity on campus." Vazquez added that she sees no real change in diversity this year.
UCSC appears to be behind in diversity compared to other UC campuses. In 2005, UC Los Angeles had 64 percent of first-year students identifying themselves as coming from an underrepresented ethnic group.
One explanation for this difference is location. UCLA is situated in a very urban setting and Williams thinks that UCSC’s geographic isolation contributes to the school’s lack of diversity.
Williams had another theory. "I think part of the issue is because the finance that it takes to survive in this area is extremely high."