In 1996 voters in California passed Proposition 209 which banned the consideration of race in admissions decisions at California’s state-operated colleges and universities. Immediately after the ban on race-sensitive admissions was enacted, Black enrollments at the most prestigious campuses of the University of California plummeted. And today, nearly 20 years later, Black enrollments at these campuses remains far below the level that existed prior to Proposition 209.
This year, an effort was mounted in the state legislature to allow voters to have the opportunity to end the ban on race-sensitive admissions. The state Senate approved the measure by the required two-thirds majority. But the effort stalled in the state Assembly and the measure will not be on the November ballot.
Asian-American leaders throughout California raised concerns that the reinstatement of race-sensitive admissions would have an adverse impact on the educational opportunities of Asian American students. Three Asian American members of the state Assembly sent a letter to Speaker John Perez, which read in part, “As lifelong advocates for the Asian American and other communities, we would never support a policy that we believed would negatively impact our children.”
Speaker Perez said he didn’t have the required two-thirds majority to pass the measure so decided not to proceed with the bill.