CA Vote Rejects Affirmative Action

Rebecca Gluck, Staff Writer

California was votes away from putting a bill on the November ballot that would allow universities in California to implement affirmative action, the practice of improving education and employment opportunities for minority groups or those who have been discriminated against. Unfortunately, California voters denied universities the chance to utilize a policy that is an effective tool in promoting equality.
Affirmative action has been around since 1961, when John F. Kennedy introduced the term during the civil rights era. Since then, there has been an ongoing debate about the effectiveness and morality of the practice.
In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 209, an anti-affirmative action measure that discouraged discriminating against or giving preferential treatment to certain groups in education or employment. SCA 5, a Democratic bill proposed in January, would have exempted universities from Proposition 209, allowing them to enact affirmative action and steer California in the right direction regarding equality.
Affirmative action helps to improve economic mobility, an individual’s ability to move from one income level to a higher one. Groups that aren’t very wealthy are unable to obtain access to quality education. Because of this, they are less likely to get into a selective college, and in the long run have a more difficult time finding work. Unless something such as affirmative action is implemented, minorities will remain in the same lesser income bracket.
The increased diversity created by affirmative action helps to broaden students’ perspectives and make them more well-rounded citizens. In turn, they will be able to make more informed decisions in society.
Because Proposition 209 limits educational boundaries, it impedes the chance of minorities joining the middle class. This is an issue that has plagued American citizens for decades. It’s unfair for minorities to be excluded from the social class that accounts for most of the votes in the country. Having a permanent lower class identifiable by race is also unfair and unacceptable.
The 80-20 Initiative, an Asian-American lobby group, managed to gather enough support to prevent the Senate from considering SCA 5 in California. This group is the main reason the bill wasn’t put forth for consideration. Their incentive behind stopping the bill was that Asian-Americans would be hurt by affirmative action, as they make up over a third of UC college admits.
Those who oppose affirmative action often do so because they are worried about majority groups losing out on job opportunities or being denied to their college of choice. Another concern is reverse discrimination, which is discrimination against people in majority groups as opposed to those in minorities. While these doubts may be legitimate, the consequences of affirmative action could only exist on a miniscule scale and would be a small price to pay for the amount of good the policy would bring.