If racial diversity is the reason behind introducing Senate Constitutional Amendment 5, then the Cal State University system doesn’t need it.
Authored by Sen. Ed Hernandez, SCA 5 would reverse Proposition 209, the California Civil Rights Initiative and would re-open the doors to allow universities to consider an applicant’s ethnicity during the admissions process.
Affirmative action policy sought to promote racial diversity during its introduction in the 1960’s, in a time when institutionalized racism was a more obvious issue, but we’re not sure its reintroduction in today’s society would serve much of a purpose.
The CSU student population is a giant melting pot with an undergraduate population that is comprised of roughly 15 percent Asian, 32 percent Hispanic, 29 percent Caucasian and 5 percent African American students. While black students account for a small number of students, there are already programs in place designed to increase the African American population within the 23-campus system.
We are opposed to affirmative action because the policy is outdated and unnecessary in a university system that is already largely diverse. We understand it was originally implemented to offset a history of institutionalized discrimination, but we think it could ultimately do more harm than good.
For example, we think the assumption that offering privileges to certain groups can make up for past oppression is somewhat flawed.
We acknowledge that there is still racism today, but it is not nearly as pervasive as it once was.
In fact, University of California, Los Angeles, law professor Richard Sander published a book, in which he argues there are actually negative consequences that result from race-preferential policies. These mainly run the risk of reverse-discrimination against those who are not in the minority.
This can be seen in the 2008 Abigail Fisher v. University of Texas court case. Fisher argued that she had been robbed of admission to the University of Texas for the sole reason that she is white, and therefore had not received preferential consideration like minority individuals who had been accepted.
This court case is arguably a direct result of the 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger case, in which the Supreme Court of the Unites States granted that the school in question could in fact “relax admission standards in order to admit a critical mass of African American and Hispanic students,” according to the University of Texas website.
The ruling of this case was then widely interpreted as an open embrace of affirmative action policies, which led to the University of Texas’s denial of Fisher in favor of another student.
Trying to revise Prop. 209 will bring back dated, race-preferential policies, which will likely cause a rise in court cases on behalf of those students who do not benefit from them.
As students who are dedicated to hard work and strong academic merit, we find it frustrating that someone could be given preferential treatment over another student based on his or her ethnicity.
We overwhelmingly agree that campus diversity is beneficial to create a balanced campus climate.
However, we question the notion that it is the responsibility of lawmakers to influence university admission decisions, especially during a time when we deem it unnecessary.
We can’t rewrite that past and reversing the State Constitution isn’t going to change that, but seeing as how diversity within the CSU is already evident, why go backwards… again?