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Low black enrollment vexes Calif. official

UC-Berkeley head blasts Prop. 209

BERKELEY, Calif. -- This fall's incoming class of 4,000 students at the University of California, Berkeley, is expected to include just 129 black freshmen, a number that disturbs leaders of the socially progressive school.

''There are very talented people out there, I believe, who for a whole variety of reasons end up not coming to Berkeley or to another of the flagship campuses in the UC system," said Robert Birgeneau, chancellor.

The number of black freshmen this fall is slightly higher than last year but still a small minority. About 11 percent of the 4,000-student class will be Hispanic, well out of step with a state where Hispanics make up about 30 percent of the population. The expected freshman class at Berkeley will be about 47 percent Asian-American.

Birgeneau questions whether voters intended these kinds of results when they passed Proposition 209, the 1996 ballot measure banning the consideration of race in public hiring, contracts, and education.

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