Wednesday, March 14
Ward Connerly, director of the American Civil Rights Campaign and tireless anti-affirmative action crusader, announced his preliminary list of targeted states at a Mar. 2 Heritage Foundation event for what he has dubbed “Super Tuesday for Equality in 2008.” Watch out, public university students in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. If Connerly has his way, he may take what he calls “sugar-coated words like diversity and inclusion” right out of your campus diets.
After a major electoral victory in November 2006 on Proposal 2 in Michigan, a ballot initiative which outlawed all preferences based on race, ethnicity, or gender in public education and employment, Connerly and his colleagues were emboldened to seek out five more states in which to crusade against affirmative action. “The Rockies look especially promising,” Connerly, a former regent of the University of California system, said when asked which of those listed nine states he would include as part of his five focused ’08 campaigns. “Now, after Michigan, it will only get easier,” he exclaimed. Connerly admitted he was shocked to win in a more liberal state like Michigan, where both major parties opposed Prop. 2, adding, “Republicans are realizing they miscalculated in supporting social equity over individual rights.”
Connerly and his fanatics have convinced themselves that affirmative action “did the wrong thing in the name of fairness,” as he put it. They believe that Prop. 209, which decimated affirmative action in California, has resulted in fairer admittance rates at the state’s public universities in the 10 years since its enactment. Their success in gaining 54 percent of the public vote in what many would consider a progressive state also led to pre-emptive moves by none other than the Bush brothers (Jeb and then-Governor George W.) in both the Florida and Texas state university systems to percentage plans that were said to yield race-neutral admittance results.
But if the mission of a public university is to provide a quality education to a population that reflects the demographics of the greater surrounding community, then the trends we’re seeing are hardly approaching fair. In Los Angeles County, which has the second largest African American population in the entire United States, the most prestigious local public university, UCLA, has only 96 African-Americans as part of this year’s freshman class of 4,852 students. That’s only 2 percent, and it represents the smallest population of African-American UCLA students in over 30 years.