Synapse: March 7, 1985

Graduate Division

From 30 Years Ago:
Vol. 29, No. 21, March 7, 1985:

“Dentistry school discrimination case dismissed,” proclaimed the front page of Synapse 30 years ago. The accompanying article, by Charles Piller, discussed the U.S Department of Education Office for Civil Rights report clearing the UCSF School of Dentistry—and how not everyone was satisfied with the decision.

In May 1984, a complaint was filed alleging discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin in the assignment of patients, the amount of clinical instruction and the manner of instruction; it was alleged that some minority students were “singled out for unfairly severe reprimands or grading.” After investigation, however, the department found “insufficient evidence” for some allegations and “no evidence” for others. And yet, “The department did note, however, a number of problem areas which may result in indirect discrimination.”

Danny Payan, a fourth-year dental student and executive vice president of the UCSF Associated Students, was quoted disputing the report’s conclusions: “There is discrimination, but a lot of students don’t want to say anything out of fear of reprisals, and because they feel it’s not going to change anything anyway.”

An investigation by Synapse, published in February 1985, revealed that “the department’s investigator on the case blamed the UCSF Affirmative Action Office—which acted as campus liaison to the agency—for long delays in the investigation. Affirmative Action Coordinator Lewis Nelson denied the charge.”

Piller also contrasted the school’s student diversity office with the allegations: “Ironically, the school has one of the best affirmative action admissions records in the country. With 21 percent minority enrollment (excluding Asians), UCSF is ranked behind only the two predominantly black dental schools.”