Opinion

University of California Board of Regents Endorses Racist and Regressive ACA 5

Written by Michael Palomba

The University of California Board of Regents has unanimously voted to endorse ACA 5, which would restore affirmative action to the California Constitution. The change, if enacted, would apply to all 10 University of California campuses, and would span much further than simply college admissions.

ACA 5 would repeal Proposition 209, which was approved by voters in 1996. Prop 209 effectively made the state’s public institutions legally colorblind and nondiscriminatory, meaning that race and gender could no longer be a factor in public education, employment, and contracting. 

While Prop 209 made our laws as fair and equal as possible, recent unrest has inspired the left to return to the days of race-based discrimination. The UC Board of Regents cites systematic inequities in education as the reason for their endorsement, despite providing no real examples of systemic racism or inequality. 

“There is amazing momentum for righting the wrongs caused by centuries of systemic racism in our country. The UC Board of Regents’ votes to endorse ACA 5 and to repeal Proposition 209 play a part in that effort,” said Board Chair John Perez. “As we continue to explore all the university’s opportunities for action, I am proud UC endorsed giving California voters the chance to erase a stain, support opportunity and equality, and repeal Proposition 209.”

So, Mr. Perez wants to “support opportunity and equality” by literally making people unequal in the California Constitution. Seems a little backward if you ask me. 

Additionally, evidence shows that the racist and sexist changes that Mr. Perez and the rest of the board endorsed actually exacerbate the issues of inequalities in education and hurt the population that they are claiming to help.

Before Prop 209 was passed in 1996, UC San Diego had only one back honor student in a class with 3,268. This wasn’t because black students weren’t capable of excelling academically, but, because they were being admitted to schools that they did not have the entering credentials for. Affirmative action got them admitted, but it did not provide them with the years of resources and skills needed to achieve honors at such rigorous universities.

After the passing of Prop 209, the black population dropped at schools like UC Berkeley or Harvard, but their performance drastically improved. Black honor students were no longer rare, and that has continued all the way into 2020. At UC San Diego in 1998, just two years after the passage of Prop 209, 20 percent of black freshmen boasted a GPA of 3.5 or better. That was even higher than the rate for Asians and nearly on par with the rate for whites.

So, not only is the idea of affirmative action in 2020 racist and regressive, it may actually prove to be most harmful to black and other marginalized communities. 

If ending affirmative action in 1996 “narrowed the majority/minority performance gap considerably,” why would we want to implement that same, damaging legislation again? This is all the more reason that everyone needs to vote against ACA 5 if it makes it to the ballot in November. Democrats have a supermajority in both chambers of the States Legislature, meaning they can pass virtually anything they want. So it’s very likely that we will see ACA 5 on the ballot, and it will be up to us to make sure it doesn’t become law.