Regents at the University of California this morning unanimously endorsed ACA5, a bill that would put the repeal of California’s affirmative action ban before the voters.
Less than an hour later, they also voted unanimously to endorse a yes vote for ACA5 if the measure makes the ballot.
The board emphasized that affirmative action only adds another factor, race, when deciding a student’s admission. The regents said it does not lower the standards for admission.
In 2006, voters approved 209 banning the policy meant to increase diversity in both employment and education. ACA5, now in the State Senate, would place the question before the voters and ask them to repeal proposition 209.
“Despite nearly two decades of effort and experimentation with race-neutral admissions at UC, the University’s enrollment of students from underrepresented groups and recruitment of faculty of color falls short of reflecting the rich diversity of California’s population,” the Los Angeles Times reports a memo from UC President Janet Ann Napolitano reads.
The meeting began this morning and so far public testimony has been overwhelmingly in support of ACA5. The State Senate is expected to vote on it in the coming weeks. The Assembly has already passed it.
“We cannot have race neutral policies for very race specific problems,” said Assemblyman Evan Lowe (D-Silicon Valley). Lowe supported the measure despite heavy pressure from mostly immigrant Chinese American constituents to vote against it. “It is one of political peril, to be frank, Lowe said to KCBS. “This is a difficult conversation, but we need to have it.”
Chunhua Liao is among those who are against ACA5. He successfully fought a similar effort in 2014, but admitted to LAist that this time his fight may be an “uphill battle.”
“This time, it’s slower,” he said, referring to his efforts to gather signatures on a change.org petition to oppose ACA5.
Polls show Asian Americans have consistently supported affirmative action. Liao’s opposition mostly focuses on education. ACA5 would impact both affirmative action in state contracts, employment and college admissions.
You can watch the Regent’s meeting live below.