California Gov. Jerry Brown may have vetoed an affirmative action bill over the weekend, but the fight for increased diversity at institutes of higher learning is far from over.
Advocates of SB 185, a bill that would have public colleges and universities to consider race in their admissions decisions are rallying to show support for the pending lawsuit to overturn Proposition 209, the state’s legal ban on affirmative action. The 14-year-old law allows preferential treatment of women and minorities in public school admissions, government hiring and contracting but since it’s suspension in 2003, minority college enrollment has steadily been decreasing.
“The situation in the University of California is at a crisis point, and everything must be done to increase underrepresented minority student enrollment now,” affirmative action group By Any Means Necessary said in a statement on its website. “Governor Jerry Brown should have signed SB 185.”
SB 185 gained extensive attention when a University of California Berkeley group, Berkeley College Republicans, held a bake sale featuring baked goods which were priced based on the race of the buyer in effort to protest the bill. SB 185 would have overruled the ban on Proposition 209, but Brown said that the courts, not him, should determine the limits of Prop. 209 and that the passage of it would only lead to further confusion and lawsuits.
“I wholeheartedly agree with the goal of this legislation. Proposition 209 should be interpreted to allow UC and CSU to consider race and other relevant factors in their admissions policies to the extent permitted under the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution," Brown said. "But while I agree with the goal of this legislation, I must return the bill without my signature."
"Signing this bill is unlikely to impact how Proposition 209 is ultimately interpreted by the courts; it will just encourage the 209 advocates to file more costly and confusing lawsuits,” he wrote to the California State Senate.
Over the next six months, students across California plan to mobilize action BAMN to impact the outcome of the Prop. 209 case before it appears in front of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
In July of this year, BAMN won a decision to overturn Proposal 2, Michigan’s ban on affirmative action. The group is hoping for a similar victory in California.
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(Photo: Kristopher Skinner/Contra Costa Times/MCT/Landov)