University of California President David S. Saxon yesterday called the Bakke decision an overall victory for the university's affirmative action plans. He said that despite the flaws of U.C. Medical School at Davis, "the overwhelming bulk of our admissions program appears to be entirely lawful."
In two hastily called news conferences, the first just as Supreme Court transcripts were being transmitted to the West and the second a few hours later, Saxon said that to his knowledge the only program immediately affected by the Bakke decision would be the admissions procedure at Davis.
There are four other medical schools and scores of professional schools in the nine campus university system, each with its own faculty-approved admissions procedure. Saxon said he was not aware of any other school using a numerical quota like that ruled illegal at Davis.
The Davis Law School, for example, includes race as one of a number of factors in the admissions procedure, Saxon said - like the Harvard program cited by Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr., as acceptable.
The Davis program, which set aside 16 seats for minorities (who were considered by a separate committee) in every 100 medical school admissions, clearly "is going to have to be modified," Saxon said. He said university officials would have to examine the Supreme Court decision before preparing specific changes.
But the court clearly rejected the California Supreme Court's contention that race was prohibited as a factor in admissions. That, Saxon said, is a good sign. Gary Morrison, assistant counsel for the university in the Bakke case said, "The Supreme Court has agreed with the core of the university's argument that ethnic minority status may lawfully be taken into account . . . that was the most important issue, and we have won on that issue."
Asked whether the ruling was likely to decrease the number of minorities either at Davis or the other campuses, Saxon said, "Any ruling that introduces restriction on the use of race is going to make it more difficult." But not very much more difficult, he said, raising again the court's affirmation of the use of race as a factor in admission.