Proposition 209 Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

California has always been a leader. Many times it is the first to implement new ideas, plans and laws. In 1996 the state of California implemented something called proposition 209 which adjusted the requirements for admissions to colleges as well as employment opportunities based on race and gender. The proposition called for the weighting of admission standards regarding the enrollment of those who entered the state universities and colleges.

More recently the proposition was voted down and the last two years have been spent dismantling its structure. This paper will explore the impact that proposition has had on the admissions and enrollment of California universities. The writer explores the topic by defining proposition 209, explaining the pros and cons of it, looks at statistical data from California state schools.

The paper specifically look at the minority admissions impact that the proposition had on enrollment. Some of the ways this will be examined includes statistical reports, anecdotal reports and published articles.








America has always been known as the land of opportunity. Millions of immigrants flock to its borders each year in the attempt to start anew. As the nation evolves the embracement of diversity becomes an important factor. Within the nation the state of California has always been a leader. California is well-known for trying new programs, implementing new laws and other projects designed to create equality. One of the most innovative and historical moves made was on November 5, 1996 when the state passed proposition 209. Proposition 209 passed by California electorate with a 54-46 vote (RACE AND GENDER IN AMERICA ( it passed it became article I, Section 31 of the state's constitution. "Proposition 209 and the "Yes on 209" campaign were projects of Californians Against Discrimination and Preferences (CADAP). CADAP was also an intervenor in the recently concluded litigation over the constitutionality of the measure (Coalition for Economic Equity v. Pete Wilson et al.) (RACE AND GENDER IN AMERICA ("

Proposition 209 removed the ability to weight admissions for the purpose of employment and admission and enrollment to college (RACE AND GENDER IN AMERICA ( proposition 209 was brought into affect there were affirmative action laws that called for the weighting of admissions and enrollment of state colleges by race and gender. The standards of certain races were lowered for admissions to colleges and the standards to other races were raised. If two people had applied under the old method to a state college and one was white and one was black there was a chance that the black person would be given admission even if his or her scores were lower than the scores of the white applicant.

This affirmative action was implemented because the government believed that there were still many cases of discrimination and that there were unequal numbers of minorities compared to whites in the state colleges and jobs. The use of affirmative action sought to level the playing field by forced acceptance of certain minorities.


Proposition 209 was called the California Civil Rights Initiative because it restates the historic Civil Rights Act and proclaims simply and clearly: "The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group, on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting (Argument in Favor of Proposition 209 ("

America is known for its equal treatment of everyone, and while that is not always the case it is often the case according to those who supported the passage of proposition 209. Proposition 209 removed the ability to weight the admissions mandates for colleges in California. In addition it took away the mandate for certain races to be hired before other races were hired. The foundation of proposition 209 is the most qualified obtains the spot in the school or the workforce with no regard to race. Proposition 209 allowed the state to stop looking at race before looking at qualifications.

Proposition 209 eliminates the attitude that every white person is advantaged and every minority is disadvantaged. It removes the mindset that minorities cannot meet the standards that whites meet to get into college or work, and it refuses to allow the standards to be lowered for that purpose.

Proposition 209 prohibits discrimination and preferences and allows any program that does not discriminate, or prefer, because of race or sex, to continue (Argument in Favor of Proposition 209 ("

Proposition 209 faced serious opposition from groups who believed to dismantle affirmative action would bring back discrimination for those minorities who want to attend college or advance in their chosen careers. It has been almost a decade since the proposition passed, which effectively voided out affirmative action with regard to employment and college. Looking at the numbers thus far seem to indicate that proposition 209 did not bring back the favoring of white applicants when it comes to the admissions and enrollment process of California state schools (Argument in Favor of Proposition 209 (

ARGUMENTS AGAINST Those who were against proposition 209 were concerned that it would promote the old school of racial discrimination. They believed that if the proposition were to pass minorities would once again be refused entry to some of the state schools because of their color (Argument in Favor of Proposition 209 (

California state colleges are known nationwide as being academically excellent as well as located in an area of the nation where the weather and opportunities are very high. "Many Californians have mixed feelings about such special places. They support the concept of a university with rigorously high standards, both in the classroom and the admissions office, and would strongly resist efforts to relax that rigor. At the same time, as taxpayers, they are wary of too much academic elitism, and would probably oppose funding an entire higher education system without some assurance that their children will, at some point, benefit. A balance must be struck between centers of excellence on one hand, and democratically accessible education on the other (The UC Prior to Proposition 209 ("

Those that supported proposition 209 believed the most fair way to handle college admissions was to allow everybody to apply and compete using the same criteria and the most qualified would be offered an admission.

That's where issues of race and ethnicity come in. In the years leading up to the adoption of Proposition 209, many equity issues were cast in terms of group representation (The UC Prior to Proposition 209 (, while technically the underrepresentation of any kind of group-geographic, income, religious or partisan-could give rise to a similar claim of unfairness, overwhelmingly, it was the underrepresentation of Blacks, and to a lesser extent Hispanics, that received the attention (The UC Prior to Proposition 209 ( course, these were not the only groups-or even the only racial and ethnic groups -- to be underrepresented on UC campuses. Rural residents, Baptists, Italians, Poles, and the children of blue-collar parents also belong on that long list. But they were the ones that captured the public imagination. At the level of undergraduate admissions, the question was: should Blacks and Hispanics receive preferential treatment so as to ensure their "fair share" of UC admissions? There were strongly held views on both sides of the issue (The UC Prior to Proposition 209 ("

Proposition was the end result of a Supreme Court decision in a case that involved the Regents of the University of California and Bakke (The UC Prior to Proposition 209 ("UC-Davis School of Medicine had adopted a policy designed to ensure that at least sixteen seats in its entering class of one hundred would go to Black or Hispanic students. Given the applicant pool, that level of representation could not be guaranteed without rejecting White and Asian applicants with considerably better academic credentials. For example, with a college grade point average of 3.46, Allan Bakke himself was "a very desirable applicant (The UC Prior to Proposition 209 (," according to one Davis interviewer.[v] His scores on the verbal, quantitative, science, and general information portions of the Medical College Admission Test were in the 96th, 94th, 97th, and 72nd percentiles respectively. In contrast, the average affirmative action admitee that year had an overall grade point average of only 2.88 and MCATs in the 46th, 24th, 35th and 33rd percentiles (The UC Prior to Proposition 209 ( Bakke was rejected and they were admitted." Bakke filed suit and for years it went through the justice system until it ended up in the Supreme Court for a ruling. The court ruled it was discrimination to have refused Bakke's admittance and this decision began the slow demise of affirmative action. It was decided that affirmative action actually caused discrimination (The UC Prior to Proposition 209 (

The lesson of the great decisions of the…

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