Taken by Bryan Tuttle

The University of California, Riverside has been selected by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) to receive a mandatory diversity compliance review.

In an e-mail sent out to campus students, staff and faculty on Sept. 13, UCR Chancellor Timothy White announced that the campus is expected to undergo the review. “As the campus with the most diverse undergraduate student body among UCs and one of the most diverse in the nation, UCR is eager to ensure that a similar trend toward diversity is apparent in faculty and staff outreach, hiring, promotion and separations,” stated Chancellor White.

The audit will occur in two parts. First, representatives from the OFCCP will review data that pertains to UCR’s affirmative action efforts. Then they will meet with key members of the UCR administration, staff and faculty to assess individual areas of concern and provide help in meeting any needed requirements. The evaluation will take place over the course of several months.

The OFCCP is a division of the United States Department of Labor. According to the department’s website, the purpose of the office “is to enforce, for the benefit of job seekers and wage earners, the contractual promise of affirmative action and equal employment opportunity required of those who do business with the Federal government.” Organizations that receive money from, or are engaged in a contract with, the federal government in an amount greater than $10,000 annually are subject to the audits.

Although protections against employee discrimination existed prior to World War II, the equal opportunity laws in their current form took shape between 1965 and 1974. The strides made in ameliorating blatant racial discrimination following the successes of the Civil Rights Movement and the turmoil surrounding the Vietnam War served as the catalysts for the passage of three pieces of equal opportunity legislation. These provide guarantees that employee discrimination “on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin,” as well as against veterans and the disabled, is not permitted for organizations that engage in monetary transactions with the federal government.

UCR embodies a diverse student body and atmosphere that distinguishes it from other university campuses. In the fall quarter of 2011, 83 percent of UCR’s undergraduate population was non-white, according to the UCR department of diversity. Greater emphasis on diverse resources on campus has resulted in the development of the LGBT Resource Center and Chicano Student Programs.

However, in data from Oct. 31, 2011, as seen in the 2012-2013 Affirmative Action Plan, the staff and academic personnel were not as diverse as the student body. Of the 1,278 academic personnel, slightly more than a third are women or members of minority groups. Hispanics, despite making up almost 30 percent of the undergraduate population, occupy less than 10 percent of top-level administrative, technical and research jobs. The diversity of the UCR staff fares slightly better than its academic personnel, with women holding 58.2 percent and minorities holding 49.8 percent of staff positions.

Still, UCR has made improvements. At the time when data was collected, there were no women serving as academic deans; Marylynn Yates now heads the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences as dean. Associate Vice Chancellor of Diversity, Excellence and Equity Gladys Brown has also headed a task force to innovate new methods of increasing staff diversity, including implementing new recruiting tools.