April 15: UC Riverside Students Hosting Townhall on #AffirmativeAction & Diversity | #SCA5

Photo credit: AALDEF
Photo credit: AALDEF

Are you a student at UC Riverside? If so, then you definitely need to make some time in your schedule tomorrow evening for an on-campus townhall conversation on affirmative action and the negative impact of Proposition 209 on campus diversity in UC schools!

The event is co-sponsored by the African Student Programs, the Asian Pacific Student Programs, the Chicano Student Programs, the Middle Eastern Student Centre, and Native American Student Programs, and will be happening Tuesday April 15th, 5-6:30pm in the Highlander Union Building, Rm 379.

From the press release:

The hope is to have a thoughtful and constructive engagement with the issue of racial diversity in colleges, such as what students gain from that diversity and how they manage challenges that may arise from that diversity, said William Caganap, interim director of Asian Pacific Student Programs.

“Some of our Asian American students who come from the San Gabriel Valley have expressed an interest in having such a forum,” he explained. “They have heard a lot from their parents, and seen the news stories coming out of the area, and they feel like they need to be better informed before making a decision on the issue of restoring some aspects of affirmative action.”

Effect of Prop 209 on UC admission rates by race.
Effect of Prop 209 on UC admission rates by race.
As you can see, Prop 209 had negligible impacts on White and Asian American admission to the UC system. It had the most dramatic effect -- a nearly 10-point drop -- in Black, Chicano, and Native American admissions.
Immediate impact of Prop 209 on applicant admission rate, by race

As I’ve discussed previously, Proposition 209 — which banned the use of race-based affirmative action by state institutions and programs in California — has had a quantifiably deleterious impact on admission rates of UC applicants who are Black, Chicano, or Native American; by contrast, Prop 209 has had a negligible impact on Asian American or White admission rates.

Meanwhile, the impact of Prop 209 on the diversity of the student body at various UC schools has been profound. Not only have the size of minority student populations at UC schools failed to keep pace with increased applicant number, but reports suggest that as many as 50% of African American applicants who were admitted to UC schools after passage of Prop 209 actually chose to go to a different school, citing concerns over the University of California’s campus environment and tolerance for racial diversity. Thus, not only has Prop 209 decreased the admission rate of minority applicants, but has also discouraged the enrollment of minority students that are accepted to UC schools.

Several studies have documented the positive impacts of on-campus diversity to students of all racial backgrounds, including increases in cognition, problem-solving, and even post-graduate job prospects and earning. Yet, these are all benefits that are being denied to today’s UC students with Proposition 209’s ongoing negative impacts on campus diversity.

Recently, Asian Americans — predominantly first generation Chinese Americans — have in California stood in the way of SCA5, a proposed constitutional amendment that would repeal Prop 209, citing fears that range from reasonable concerns over how affirmative action would be instituted in UC schools (probably identically to how it was practiced prior to passage of Prop 209) to unfounded claims that SCA5 is unconstitutional, would deny entry of Asian Americans to college based on race alone, or even that it is the first step in a nation-wide conspiracy that would culminate in Chinese American internment and genocide.

Whereas some of the opposition to SCA5 is reasonable, other arguments are wildly misinformed. So, if you’re in the UCR area tomorrow, I strongly encourage you to attend tomorrow night’s townhall meeting, which is open to the public (more information here), and get educated on why Asian American voters in California should support affirmative action by repealing Proposition 209.

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