2020 Election, News

Student panel pushes for ‘yes’ on Proposition 16 to support affirmative action

A panel of student fellows across California held a virtual rally Wednesday to raise awareness of Proposition 16 and encourage students to vote yes

Student panel for YesOnProp16 includes Dominick Williams (upper left), Maryana Khames (upper right), Stephan Kodur (lower left) and Jamaal Muwwakkil (lower right) leading the discussion on why Proposition 16 should be important to voters. Andrea Ramos/ Daily Forty-Niner

Host Deidre Reyes, a fourth-year public policy major at University of California, Riverside, said that voting yes on Proposition 16 this November would reverse the ban on equal opportunity policies such as affirmative action and allow elected officials to design programs that would provide jobs, better wages and equal access to California schools.

A wide range of speakers participated in the event, including a diverse group of students from universities state-wide as well as Tony Thurmond, California State Superintendent for Public Instruction, and Kevin de León, member-elect of the Los Angeles City Council and former President pro tempore of the California State Senate. 

“Prop 16 says that we’re just going to take into account that there are socio-economic factors that sometimes have been barriers, but it doesn’t mean that our students can’t achieve, they can,” Thurmond said. “We’ve got to make sure that we’re thinking about race, ethnicity, diversity and inclusion for all.”

In an attempt to depict the relevance of this issue in the California school systems, the rally featured a video of students throughout history who have marched for previous propositions, including Proposition 209, the Affirmative Action Initiative of 1996.

Approved in November of that year, Proposition 209 banned California from “discriminating against or granting preferential treatment on the basis of  race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education and public contracting,” according to Ballotpedia.

“Regardless of your skin, regardless of which god you pray to, regardless of your legal status, we all deserve dignity and respect, as human beings and as Californians,” de Leon said. 

Facilitated by Dominick Williams, University of California, Berkeley alumnus and legislative staffer for Assemblymember Shirley Weber, the student panel featured several speakers including Maryana Khames from San Diego State University, Stephan Koder from Reedley College and Jamaal Muwwakkil from University of California, Los Angeles. 

The student speakers gave insight as to why Proposition 16 is important to them, relating to their struggles in education and resources, as well as why it would be important to students across the state, giving them opportunities that are not restricted because of bias towards their identity.

“Proposition 16 is a way to intentionally look at data, to look at fact and to intentionally point our resources and our funds to areas that actually need that support,” Khames said. “At the end of the day it’s not just hard work, it’s opportunity.”

In hopes of gaining support, the Vote Yes on Prop 16 campaign will be hosting a march for on Oct. 11 at 10 a.m. in Los Angeles at the intersection of Fairfax Avenue and Melrose Avenue. 

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