History of the Educational Opportunity Program
The civil rights movements of the 1960's inspired many college students to play an active role in effecting changes within a system that created economic and social barriers that lead to poverty and discrimination. The 1960's were a time when students from east and west coast universities began to develop a political consciousness. Poverty, discrimination, and other socio-economic barriers began to be linked to the lack of higher education opportunities for many minority and socially disadvantaged students. Mexican Americans/Chicano and Black/African American students on the Campus of California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA), as well as across the nation, questioned access to higher education and access to quality jobs. These groups first met informally within their communities. By 1967 the Mexican and the African American communities in CSULA formed their own organizations: the United Mexican American Student Association (UMAS) and the Black Student Association (BSA). Once the formation of these organizations took place, their agenda was clear: Question the access of students of color to the university, and usage of university funds and inform other students about these issues.
Through the diligence of these two organizations, the 'two percent rule was discovered. After conducting extensive investigations into the university admissions process, UMAS and BSA discovered that two percent of the previous years entering first-time freshmen might be designated as Special Admits. That is two percent of entering student are allowed to enter the university without meeting all, or even any, of the universities requirements.
As Special Admits, student who would otherwise be denied admission due to low-test scores or non-satisfactory academic performance were allowed admission under the two percent rule. However, in investigating the two percent rule, UMAS found that the two percent rule was not being used to provide access to the disadvantaged minorities. Instead it was used as a loophole for athletic recruitments.Student protest against the misuse of the two percent rule eventually caused CSLA to revise its admissions policies. This allowed a passage for African and Mexican American students to gain access to higher education.
In 1967, through the educational committee of UMAS and BSA the concept of Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) was founded utilizing the two percent rule for minority students who would otherwise be denied entrance to the university.
By June 17, 1968, the Associated Student Incorporated (ASI) at CSLA voted to give BSA and UMAS, $40,000 to run Minority Student Program.In addition the state funds were allocated to help fund for administrative support and supplies. Under the direction of Monte Perez and Ralph Dawson, as well as the BSA and UMAS advisors, potential admits were interviewed for the program.
Later in 1968, under the direction of co-coordinators Perez and Dawson, 68 entering freshmen comprised the first class of the Minority Student Program, which later became the Educational Opportunity Program.
In April 1969, EOP obtained financial stability when the California Legislature passed Senate Bill 1072 (the Harmer Bill). This bill established EOP throughout the California State Institutions of higher learning.
Over 30 years later, the EOP program is still going strong, providing access to college for economically and socially disadvantaged minority students who display potential for academic success in California State University curriculum.