Friday, November 22

Hundreds rally against Prop. 54


Amid shouts and cheers, community organizers led an energetic
rally that drew a few hundred students to protest Proposition
54.

The proposition would prevent the government from recording
racial data, except in some cases of health care and law
enforcement.

“We are what diversity looks like,” chanted the
crowd along with emcees Andy Ramírez, a member of MEChA, and
Yousef Tajsar, a member of the California State Affirmative Action
Coalition and a board member for the Associated Students of
UCLA.

The rally left some students inspired to help defeat Proposition
54 but left others confused as to what the rally was about.

Members of CSAAC and the Undergraduate Students Association
Council organized the rally, which tried to get UCLA students
interested in Proposition 54 by explaining specifically what
negative impacts it would have on education.

If the proposition passes, outreach and retention programs would
be severely impacted, if not destroyed, because the data indicating
which communities are affected would no longer be available, said
John Vu, a speaker at the rally and a member of the Student
Retention Center.

Despite the speakers’ message advocating against the
proposition, some students still said they were not convinced.

Andrew Reinicke, a fifth-year political science and history
student and a member of the Bruin Republicans, led a two-person
counterprotest.

A “yes” on Proposition 54 would stop race from being
used in university admission in any way and bring fairness and
justice to California, he said.

Other students disagreed with Reinicke.

“If Proposition 54 passes, it will lead to discrimination
without a paper trail,” said rally-attendee Jaire Hattley, a
first-year communications student.

Though the proposition has a clause for medical exemptions,
protesters said it could negatively affect health care if certain
racial data cannot be collected.

Linda Baldonado, a nurse from the Service Employment
International Union, spoke of the importance of recording race for
health care purposes. Because certain groups are prone to certain
diseases, it is important to maintain racial data to help diagnose
and warn people of their individual risks, she said.

Another speaker, Mandla Kayise of the Black Alumni Association,
said that the goal of the proposition is to render people of color
invisible and that “if this state is going to be turned
around, it will be because of young people of color.”

Such remarks created an air of confusion among some
students.

“I thought this was a rally against Proposition 54,”
said confused passerby Ross Otto, a third-year cognitive science
student.

“What is this?” he asked, referring to some
speakers’ tendencies to stray from the topic of the
proposition.

Tajsar said because the speakers had free rein to discuss how
the proposition would affect their particular community, some of
the speakers spoke in very broad terms.

Sherry Wright of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force wrapped
up the rally by saying proposition opponents should be encouraged
that only two people rallied in favor of the proposition while
hundreds of students were against it during the demonstration.

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