- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 16, 2020

In a special meeting, the University of California regents threw its unanimous support behind a proposal to repeal the state’s constitutional amendment forbidding affirmative action.

The move to undo the California Civil Rights Initiative, or Prop 209, which California voters passed in 1996 with 54.5% of the vote, comes on the heels of weeks of protest and, in some cases, riots that have engulfed American cities. The unrest was triggered by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died at the hands of a white Minneapolis officer who knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Now, the state legislature is moving on a bill that would allow special preferences for race, ethnicity and sex when it comes to state employment and, by extension, admission to California’s prestigious university system. That bill has passed the Assembly and could be put before voters this November.

The passage of Prop 209 has been blamed for a decline in minority representation on U-Cal campuses.

“The original sin of this country has to be addressed,” regent Eloy Ortiz Oakley said. “This is our opportunity to right a historical wrong.”

UC President Janet Napolitano also backs the proposal, as do most of the various faculty and student bodies at the 10 campuses that comprise the University of California system.

Some of Ms. Napolitano’s predecessors have acknowledged the system’s admission process already skews unfairly against Asian-American applicants. If it did not, the entire class at UC Berkeley, the premier campus in the chain, would be entirely Asian-American, former President Robert C. Dynes said in an explosive comment in 2004.

At present, show Asian-American still comprise some 33% of the system’s undergraduate and graduate students, while accounting for 15% of state residents. White make up 21% of UC students and 37% of the population, while Latinos appear the most underrepresented as they comprise 22% of UC students but 39% of state residents, the largest single groups.

African-Americans make up 6% of California’s residents but only 4% of the UC student population, according to state and census figures.

The Cal-State constellation of schools, whose 23 campuses comprise the second rung of the state’s public higher education system, have student bodies that are “nearly 75% people of color,” according to an Associated Press account this week.

“Proposition 209 has forced California public institutions to try to address racial inequality without factoring in race, even where allowed by federal law,” Ms. Napolitano said. “The diversity of our university and higher-education institutions across California should - and must - represent the rich diversity of our state.”

Should the Civil Rights Initiative repeal pass the state senate and be approved by voters on Nov. 3, the UC Regents would need to determine how to implement a new system of affirmative action. Those details were not discussed Monday, according to multiple reports.

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