CALIFORNIANS SAY PROP. 2 WILL HAVE FAR REACHING EFFECTS
If Michigan voters approved Proposal 2006-2, the Michigan Civil Rights
Initiative, they will see effects going far beyond just university
admissions and public contracting, three researchers from California
said Tuesday. The state will see a shift in where students,
particularly minority students, go to college; fewer minorities and
women will go into various professions; and the state will face repeated
lawsuits over any sort program or policy that opponents can say shows
preference on the basis of race or gender.
And voters have to give up their "naive optimism," that if the proposal
passes public institutions will still be able to do outreach, said Bob
Laird, a higher education admissions consultant, said. "It is
ironclad," he said, and any attempts to somehow get around it will be
met with legal challenges.
But Jennifer Gratz, chair of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, said
the officials "are outright lying." Outreach efforts on such things as
women's health still continue in California, she said.
The three - Mr. Laird, Monique Morris of the Berkeley, California-based
Discrimination Research Center and Paul Turner of the Berkeley,
Califonrnia-based Greenlining Institute - were on a statewide tour on
behalf of One United Michigan, one of the organizations formed oppose
the initiative, to discuss effects they had seen in the Golden State
after passage of Proposition 209, which is similar in tone and effect to
Proposal 2006-2 would change the constitution to bar the use of
affirmative action on the basis of race and gender by public
universities and other state and local governmental entities.
Mr. Laird said the California proposal has had an enormous impact on
the makeup of that state's top public universities, with the incoming
classes of UCLA and Berkeley primary white and Asian-American. Out of
4,850 members of UCLA's 2006 freshman class, just 96 are black, he said.
Black and Hispanic students are choosing instead to attend schools
like UC-Riverside, so there is a general lack of diversity now on those
In addition, more minority students are choosing to go to colleges in
other states, making it more likely they will not return to the nation's
most racially diverse state when they graduate, he said.
Ms. Morris said studies she has conducted show that since the passage
of the proposal in 1996 there are significantly fewer women in the
construction trades, in part because labor and the construction industry
feel limited in their ability to provide outreach to women.
And, she said the percentage of state and local contracts going to
minority-owned companies has dropped from $400 million in 1995 to $75
million in 2005.
Mr. Turner said the effects of the proposal go beyond public
contracting. Governments would be prohibited from even keeping lists
of minority firms, which private companies use as part of their own
affirmative action efforts.
But Ms. Gratz said the opposition is trying to scare people "by
creating doomsday scenarios." Outreach efforts will still be allowed
so long as they are not based on race and gender, she said. And
studies show that 13 of the 20 schools labeled the most diverse are
located in California.
C.E.O. STUDIES: The Center for Equal Opportunity, an organization that
it says promotes colorblind policies, has issued several reports
charging that admissions to the University of Michigan still factors
race and ethnicity too heavily.
According to the study, a black or Hispanic student with a 3.2 grade
point average and who scored 1240 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test had a
9 in 10 chance of winning admission to the university, while a white
student with the same scores had a 1 in 10 chance.
Officials from the University of Michigan said grades and test scores
are not the only factors considered in admissions. And Mr. Laird said
that factors such as a student's parents' educational background also
play a role in academic achievement. Students whose parents have no
college degrees and lower incomes tend to score lower than students
whose parents have degrees and higher incomes.
Roger Clegg, the organization's president, said in a release the
protests to the study from UM disputed that other factors drew as much
weight as grades and scores in admissions