On her blog, ASA Chair Elma Delic gives an explanation for the organization’s endorsement of a “No” vote on Proposition 107. She does so in the position of ASA Chair, on behalf of the supposedly non-partisan organization, with no greater explanation of how the organization claims to have garnered student opinion on this matter than a vague allusion to “talking to organizations” and some policy analysis from the ASA Government Affairs Director. While Ms. Delic is undoubtedly earnest in her explanation, a few of her points are factually wrong, and a few more advocate poor policy decisions that further engender state-mandated racism. This post is yet more evidence of ASA’s decidedly partisan consideration of ballot issues, and gives students a glimpse at the kind of rhetoric espoused by an organization that claims to be the strongest voice for students to the Arizona legislature.
This constitutional amendment, if passed, has a great potential for harm to institutions of higher education. Some of the initiative’s supporters are referring to Prop. 107 as an “anti-affirmative action” amendment. However, this is very misleading because Arizona’s universities do not use quotas, or take into account race or sex during the admittance process. This means that every student that is enrolled at a university got here based on their merit. (Emphasis mine)
The universities may not call then quotas, but they most certainly do consider race in admissions. This from the OIRPS [pdf] (highlighting added):
From this document, we see clearly that race and ethnicity are indeed considered in admissions decisions, and are in fact given the same weight as standardized test scores and admissions essays. Further, the universities have repeatedly mentioned that increasing diversity is a priority; barring magic, the only way for the relative percentage of a given ethnic group to increase would be to, you know, consider ethnicity when admitting applicants. This study[pdf] from the Center for Equal Opportunity revealed The James E Rogers College of Law found that rejected non-BHNA applicants had higher LSAT scores and GPAs than accepted BHNAs – further belying the idea that race isn’t taken into account. Even setting aside the merits of the idea that universities should descriminate for race, to say that they don’t is flatly erroneous.
Delic continues, “In fact, after a similar proposition passed in California (Proposition 209) they saw a decrease in enrollment by both Black and Latino students.” This also proves false: though enrollment decreased the year directly after the measure passed, enrollment has increased for all recorded ethnic groups, in the case of Hispanic enrollment by nearly 10%. The following increases took place with no state-mandated race-based preferences:
African American 1996: 4% (1,628) 2010: 4.2% (2,624)
Latino 1996: 15.4% (5,744) 2010: 23% (14,081)
Asians 1996: 29.8% (11,085) 2010: 37.5% (22,877)
Native Americans 1996: 0.9% (360) 2010: 0.8% (531)
Whites 1996: 44% (16,465) 2010: 34% (20,807)
Delic also presents, “Ward Connerly, the creator of this initiative, is a former University of California Regent. He is also the founder and leader of the American Civil Rights Institute which pays him millions of dollars annually to pass anti-equal opportunity legislation across the country.” Her personal claims about Mr. Connerly are un-linked and unsubstantiated, but excepting the factuality of this claim, the example is not unlike the way in which ASA gets hundreds of thousands of student dollars to espouse partisan interests (such as this one) in students’ name, with little to no accountability on what students actually care about.
The endorsement continues, “For example, in Michigan the Supreme Court found that the Michigan “Civil Rights Initiative” had engaged in system voter fraud, however, it remained on the ballot because it did not violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965.” This is also incorrect: The Sixth Circuit Court (of the federal judiciary) denied to issue an injunction to remove the proposition from the ballot, because the election had already taken place. The Supreme Court denied to hear the appeal for alternative relief (i.e. non-enforcement of the measure) without comment.
Delic next presents that, “Connerly tried to get his initiative on the Arizona ballot in 2008 (Prop. 104) but failed because he could not get enough legitimate signatures.” This is one version of what occurred: Prop. 104 failed to get on the ballot because Michael Slugocki and Kathleen Templin — both board members of ASA at the time — filed a formal complaint against the signatures. They filed this suit after ASA had voted to oppose the measure — muddying the motives considerably. Neither Templin nor Slugocki listed their affiliation with ASA on the formal complaint.
The language in the proposition and title deceive the voter by calling it the “Arizona Civil Rights Amendment” and stating that it will end discriminatory practices by eliminating state funding to these practices. The amendment does not provide civil rights nor does it end discrimination –it removes the public’s ability to support individuals who need support, further disempowering already underprivileged groups.
Nowhere in the post appears a link to the easily-accessible ballot information, not is the official ballot language printed, even in excerpt. While it may indeed be confusing to consider how confusing a passage is in abstraction, having it to read does make that a bit easier. The official ballot language:
Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of Arizona, the Senate concurring:
SECTION 36. A. THIS STATE SHALL NOT GRANT PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT TO OR DISCRIMINATE AGAINST 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.
C. THE REMEDIES AVAILABLE FOR A VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION ARE THE SAME, REGARDLESS OF THE INJURED PARTY’S RACE, SEX, COLOR, ETHNICITY OR NATIONAL ORIGIN, AS ARE OTHERWISE AVAILABLE FOR A VIOLATION OF THE EXISTING ANTIDISCRIMINATION LAWS OF THIS STATE.
F. FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION, “STATE” INCLUDES THIS STATE, A CITY, TOWN OR COUNTY, A PUBLIC UNIVERSITY, INCLUDING THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA, ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY AND NORTHERN ARIZONA UNIVERSITY, A COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT, A SCHOOL DISTRICT, A SPECIAL DISTRICT OR ANY OTHER POLITICAL SUBDIVISION IN THIS STATE.
The post continues to present, in super-scary italics, “Student groups that represent certain demographics could lose public funding. Entire departments in the universities could be shut down.” We here at the Lamp are willing to bet ASA a substantial amount of money that this will not happen (no, seriously — hit us up!). This law only dictates that programs be open to persons of all race/ethnicity/gender/etc, not that programs can’t study or focus upon one group. The list of “threatened programs” included here are also allowed under the law, as we see here. One needs only to look at states in which measure like have already passed similar measures to see that public programs similar to the ones listed still exist.
The post concludes with, “ASA encourages all students to educate themselves before going to the polls in November or submitting their early ballot.” On this point, the Lamp agrees — but we encourage said education to include empirical evidence, reputable links, and facts that feature legitimate citations.