Monday, December 10

Chancellors challenge Prop. 209


Monday, October 21, 1996

ELECTION:

Initiative would have ‘devastating effect,’ chancellors sayBy
Brooke Olson

Daily Bruin Staff

With less than three days before various student organizations
take mass action to defeat Proposition 209, chancellors from the
university’s two flagship campuses publicly announced their
opposition to the initiative Sunday.

UCLA Chancellor Charles E. Young and Berkeley Chancellor
Chang-Lin Tien said Proposition 209 would "have a devastating
effect on the University as well as the state" and could "radically
(reduce) the extraordinary diversity that we have managed to
achieve" within the nine-campus UC system.

Proposition 209, termed the California Civil Rights Initiative
(CCRI) by proponents, seeks to "end state (discrimination and)
preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of
race or gender in all public employment, education and
contracting."

Affirmative action was eliminated at the UC level by the July
1995 SP1 and SP2 actions taken by the Board of Regents, which both
chancellors openly opposed. As it stands, the actions can be
repealed by a majority vote of the board.

But if Proposition 209 passes, the regents will be unable to
overturn their decision under the guise of the law, Tien and Young
said.

"Having Proposition 209 in state law will make it much more
difficult to change SP1 and SP2," Young said, adding that both he
and Tien were speaking out against the initiative as private
citizens and not as representatives of the university.

At the heart of both chancellors’ opposition to the initiative
is the belief that if 209 fails, the regents could review and
possibly rescind their earlier decision.

Proponents of the initiative contend that it is time to end the
regime of race- and sex-based preferences. They believe that the
1964 goal of the Civil Rights Act ­ to create equality before
the law ­ has since been twisted into government-sanctioned
discrimination.

"For me and millions of other minorities and for women, what is
important is that we all have an equal chance to compete," said UC
Regent and Chair of the Yes on 209 campaign Ward Connerly.

However, both chancellors believe that while affirmative action
may not be perfect, it still allows underrepresented minorities a
chance to break through the "glass ceiling."

"We have yet to reach a level playing field … we need to
improve affirmative action, not eliminate it," Tien said.

The chancellors believe affirmative action is necessary for
maintaining a diversity that has turned both UCLA and UC Berkeley
into "two of the highest quality public educations in the world,"
Young said.

Multiculturalism, as well as classroom learning, is essential
for producing highly skilled leaders that can compete in an
increasingly global market, they added.

According to a university study released late last month, SP1
and SP2 would dramatically lower the number of African Americans
and Latinos/as admitted to the campuses.

While these populations would decrease by 5 and 10 percent,
respectively, both Asian American and Caucasian enrollment would
increase slightly, the report said.

"(UC Berkeley and UCLA) became stronger and more renowned as a
result of their increased diversity," Young said, noting that the
quality of education could decrease as a result of dwindling
minority enrollment.

Proponents of Proposition 209 deny that the proposition will
close the doors of opportunity to minorities. Instead, they
maintain it will create a colorblind society in which merit ­
not race or gender ­ is the basis for hiring and college
admissions, supporters said.

But both chancellors believe that the passage of Proposition 209
will allow lawful discrimination to women and minorities.

"(Prop. 209) will permanently remove our most effective tool in
building a pluralistic society without providing any satisfactory
alternatives," the chancellors wrote in an Oct. 20 letter to the
Los Angeles Times.

"(It is important) to preserve the quality of the University of
California and our shared dream of opportunity and equality for
all."

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