What Harvard Can Learn From California History

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

The California state university system faced complaints remarkably similar to the ones Harvard is facing now, and leveled by the same ethnic group. “Enter the California Civil Rights Initiative, Proposition 209 on the November 1996 ballot: ‘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,'” K. Lloyd Billingsley of the Independent Institute writes. “Administrators and politicians attacked it in apocalyptic terms, but California voters approved it 54 to 46 percent.”

“The disaster the preference forces predicted never came about. As Thomas Sowell noted in Intellectuals and Race, declines in minority enrollment at UCLA and Berkeley have been offset by increases at other UC campuses. More important, the number of African-American and Hispanic students graduating from the UC system has gone up, including a 55 percent increase in those graduating in four years with a GPA of 3.5 or higher.”

“Proposition 209 did not mean the end of “affirmative action.” Universities could still help disadvantaged students on an economic basis, but they could not discriminate on the basis of race and ethnicity, as Asian students claim Harvard is doing.”