South L.A. student finds a different world at Cal
School had always been his safe harbor.
Growing up in one of South Los Angeles’ bleakest, most violent neighborhoods, he learned about the world by watching “Jeopardy” and willed himself to become a straight-A student.
His teachers and his classmates at Jefferson High all rooted for the slight and hopeful African American teenager. He was named the prom king, the most likely to succeed, the senior class salutatorian. He was accepted to UC Berkeley, one of the nation’s most renowned public universities.
A semester later, Kashawn Campbell sat inside a cramped room on a dorm floor that Cal reserves for black students. It was early January, and he stared nervously at his first college transcript.
There wasn’t much good to see.
He had barely passed an introductory science course. In College Writing 1A, his essays — pockmarked with misplaced words and odd phrases — were so weak that he would have to take the class again.
He had never felt this kind of failure, nor felt this insecure. The second term was just days away and he had a 1.7 GPA. If he didn’t improve his grades by school year’s end, he would flunk out.
I know, they made it too easy for you. But just in case you haven’t already figured it out by now, they take a little mystery out of the caper later on:
At Jefferson, a long essay took a page and perfect grades came after an hour of study a night.
His ghetto high school was too easy, and Berkeley exposed it. And he was the salutatorian of his high school graduating class, too. Remember this when you hear about “top ten percent” college admissions schemes — Someone who finished in the top 9% of his or her graduating class at this man’s ghetto high school, who isn’t quite as smart as he is, will get guaranteed admission before a white student who finished in the top 11% of his or her graduating class at a more difficult white high school.
If there was only some way to expose grade inflation, course title inflation and easy ghetto and taco high schools before graduation and college admissions.
It also says that he was a resident in a two-floor section specifically reserved for black undergraduates, and that’s part of what he did to “fit in.” I wonder, are there any white-only floors in the dorms at Berkeley?