27 May 2003
California's Proposition 209, passed by popular vote in 1996, is a relatively simple measure as such things go. What it says is this:
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.
Mere approval by the electorate, of course, means little to the University of California, as explained by Dustin Frelich (27 May):
Admission into UC schools can be thought of as based on the breaking of a point barrier which earns a student a spot in the limited ranks of UC admits. Pushing minority students through the barrier, numerous points are awarded to minority students by default by default because points are cleverly bestowed upon students who tend to come from backgrounds highly valued by UC admissions, such as being from a poor family.
Does this actually work?
Whites outnumber all ethnic groups at 37.3 percent of the total Fall admits, but stand at 46.7 percent of Californians. With a discrepancy that large second only to Latinos by a few points one would think they would join ranks with other "underrepresented minorities." They don't, but why not? Well, according to the UC Race-Conscious Policies report, "underrepresented" is said to apply only to "students from groups that collectively achieved eligibility for the University at a rate below 12.5 percent," and is interchangeably used with the term "underrepresented minority."
Apparently quacking like a duck in California is no indication of birdhood.