In 1996, California overwhelmingly voted to approve Proposition 209, which prohibited the state’s public universites and colleges from using race or ethnicity in admissions decisions. Now, state Senator Ed Hernandez is fighting to put this decision before voters one more time.
Hernandez introduced a state constitutional amendment SCA-5 which would once again allow public education institutions to consider factors like race. The amendment was approved by the Senate Committee on Education earlier this year and now heads to the full chamber for any vote. If SCA-5 is approved by both of California’s legislative houses, it can go in front of voters as early as this fall.
Mary Zhou from the Daily Californian writes this isn’t Hernandez’ first attempt to bring down Prop 209 — last year he introduced SB 185 which may have overturned Prop 209. The measure passed the Legislature with wide majorities but was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown. Brown explained that in the view, determining the validity of Prop 209 should be left towards the courts and never to the lawmakers.
Hernandez said he proposed the constitutional amendment so the decision on Prop. 209 visits the people rather than the governor.
\”I think the voters could be more open this time around than in 1996,\” Hernandez said. \”Let\’s compare the gay marriage issue and some of the other social issues and look at how the country is evolving.\”
A survey released through the Public Policy Institute of California in 2011?found that 75 percent of respondents in California thought it either somewhat or necessary for have a racially diverse student body in public universities.
If SCA-5 is approved, that would open the door for universities to think about race like a factor when creating admissions decisions, but what this type of policy would even seem like is hard to examine. In a decision passed down last month in Fisher v. UT Austin, the final Court substantially narrowed the standards such affirmative action policies must meet in order to be constitutional. According to the decision, race can be used a factor when the schools under consideration can’t use any alternative means to achieve similar level of diversity.
However, Ward Connerly, who is president from the American Civil Rights Coalition and would be a staunch advocate for Prop. 209 when it passed in 1996, asserted affirmative action coverage is not the solution to underrepresentation of minority groups in advanced schooling.
\”You gotta start much earlier in the life cycle of the student,\” Connerly said. \”It\’s the flaw of households, of cultures – numerous things that really should not be corrected by providing some kids extra points or lowering the standard.\”