Opposition to Proposition 54: Classification by Race, Ethnicity, Color, or National Origin

AS-2621-03/AA/FA/FGA - September 4-5, 2003

RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate of the California State University (CSU) strongly oppose Proposition 54: Classification by Race, Ethnicity, Color, or National Origin a proposed amendment to Section 32 of the California Constitution; and be it further,

RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate CSU transmit copies of this resolution to the CSU campus senate chairs, to the Chancellor of the CSU, to the Chair of CSU Board of Trustees, to the Governor, and to the Legislature.

RATIONALE: Since the 1960s, energized in part by the Master Plan for Higher Education, the California State University has been deeply committed to the principle of making higher education available to historically underrepresented students, many of them from ethnic or cultural minorities, and to the goal of expanding the cultural and gender diversity of its faculty. If passed, Proposition 54 would significantly inhibit the CSU's progress toward realizing these goals.

Proposition 54 would inhibit the ability of agencies such as the California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC) to carry out their work, thereby reducing the ability of the CSU to make informed decisions or reach reasoned judgments about matters of policy. Lacking data collected by the state, CPEC would have no factual basis on which to determine success of publicly-funded colleges and universities in providing access to all ethnic/racial groups, or to ascertain whether some lack equal opportunity in the high schools to complete the admissions requirements for the CSU and University of California (UC).

By prohibiting the State from collecting data on ethnicity, Proposition 54 would restrict the ability of faculty and students to analyze such data to the benefit of the State and its citizens. It would deprive faculty and students of data compiled by the State, data used for scholarly research, for analysis of trends in California society, economy, and politics, and for policy planning. The Academic Senate CSU shares the concerns of the Academic Senate of the UC about the potentially deleterious effects of Proposition 54 on this primary function of the academy (its statement is online at http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/senate/reports/crecnoresp.pdf).

Proposition 54 would significantly inhibit the ability of the CSU to realize its goals of making higher education available to historically underrepresented students, many of them from ethnic or cultural minorities, and the goal of expanding the cultural and gender diversity of its faculty. By prohibiting all agencies of the State of California from collecting or maintaining data on race or ethnicity of employees and other individuals (e.g., students and staff), Proposition 54 would prevent the CSU from measuring the extent to which it is succeeding in providing access to all ethnic and racial groups and in diversifying its faculty and staff positions. If the state of California were unable to collect data on the race and ethnicity of high school graduates, there would be no basis on which to identify which racial or ethnic groups are underrepresented.

Proposition 54 would similarly obstruct the CSU's efforts to gauge the success of efforts to recruit and retain a diverse faculty. The ways that the University addresses its goals of opportunity and diversity will change as the racial and ethnic composition of California changes a group that is underrepresented today may not be in 10 or 20 years. But it is, and will be, possible to know who is underrepresented only if data are available. Proposition 54, if passed, would deprive CSU of these data. Proposition 54 would therefore weaken efforts to expand educational opportunity for prospective students from under-represented groups and to increase diversity of the faculty and staff.

APPROVED - September 4-5, 2003



 
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