This fall 4,852 freshmen are expected to enroll at UCLA, but only 96, or 2%, are African American -- the lowest figure in decades and a growing concern at the Westwood campus.
For several years, students, professors and administrators at UCLA have watched with discouragement as the numbers of black students declined. But the new figures, released this week, have shocked many on campus and prompted school leaders to declare the situation a crisis.
UCLA -- which boasts such storied black alumni as Jackie Robinson, Tom Bradley and Ralph Bunche, and is in a county that is 9.8% African American -- now has a lower percentage of black freshmen than either crosstown rival USC or UC Berkeley, the school often considered its top competitor within the UC system.
The 96 figure -- down by 20 students from last year -- is the lowest for incoming African American freshmen since at least 1973.
In California, the problem is rooted partly in the restrictions placed on the state's public colleges and institutions by Proposition 209, the 1996 voter initiative that banned consideration of race and gender in admissions and hiring.
Other factors include the socioeconomic inequities that undermine elementary and high school education in California and elsewhere, with minority students disproportionately affected because they often attend schools with fewer resources, including less-qualified teachers and fewer counselors.
Many students and professors also say the declining presence of blacks on campus discourages some prospective students from attending, thus exacerbating the problem.