For Immediate Release
January 5, 2021
SAN DIEGO, CA – January 5, 2021- In an effort of proactive engagement, Californians for Equal Rights (CFER) sent a formal letter to the leadership at UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) with regards to UCSB’s recent Statement on Proposition 16. In the letter, CFER expresses genuine concerns involving UCSB leadership’s emphasis on Federal affirmative action policies and invites the leadership for further discussions on legally sustaining the school’s diversity efforts.
In response to UCSB leadership’s demonstrative disappointment at Proposition 16’s failure, CFER makes several important clarifications in the letter in hope of improving awareness and understanding on this nuanced topic. First, as a state public university, UCSB must not only follow federal laws to guide its admissions practices, it also needs to strictly observe state laws including California Constitution Section I, Article 31(a) which establishes the principle of equal treatment for all. To illustrate this well-formed position, CFER includes a “Summary of Applicable Federal and State Laws and Regulations” in our letter.
Moreover, CFER implores UCSB’s leadership to celebrate its track record of increasing student body diversity by highlighting the fact that the school “was the first member of the American Association of Universities to be named a Hispanic-Serving Institution”. While the State Constitution, through the passage of Proposition 209 in 1996, prohibits preferential treatment in public education, public employment and public contracting, affirmative action has not been categorically banned in California. Need-based affirmative action is allowed, thereby underscoring “a multitude of diversity measures and outreach efforts targeting disadvantaged student groups” in the last 24 years.
Last but not least, CFER poses a constructive challenge for UCSB’s “diversity, equity, and inclusion” goal by situating the concept within a higher purpose of learning and academic excellence. CFER recommends that UCSB champion its diversity initiatives in a legal and holistic manner that also addresses the root causes behind the persistent achievement gap. In this spirit, we welcome further engagement and collaboration with the school.
“As a prominent civil-rights organization dedicated to raising awareness on the principle of equal rights, we support educational diversity on college campuses. However, such diversity should be accomplished in compliance with all relevant laws,” wrote Frank Xu, President of CFER, in the formal letter.
About Californians for Equal Rights (CFER): CFER is a non-partisan and non-profit organization established following the defeat of Proposition 16 in 2020, with a mission to defend and advance the cause of equal rights through public education, civic engagement and community outreach. In 1996, California became the first U.S. state to amend its constitution by passing Proposition 209 to ban racial discrimination and preferences. Prop 209 requires that “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.” CFER is dedicated to educating the public on this important constitutional principle of equal treatment.