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Proposition 16 is one of the highly debated topics among students applying to college in California this year. So, what is Proposition 16, and is the Proposition overall beneficial or harmful in our society?
California Proposition 16 is called the “Repeal of Proposition 209 Affirmative Action Amendment.” Proposition 209 was passed in 1996 and says that no jobs or public universities can discriminate or give preferential treatment on the basis of ethnicity, race or gender.
A “yes” vote on Proposition 16 is in favor of affirmative action. This Proposition is designed to help minorities with fewer opportunities get access to prestigious institutions. It is also designed to create more diversity on college campuses and at government jobs. A “no” vote keeps the ban on affirmative action. People against the proposition state that it is unconstitutional since the 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law, and that everyone should be judged based on their skills and achievements rather than their ethnicity or gender.
There are eight states that currently ban affirmative action: Arizona, Washington, Florida, California, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma.
The Hatchet conducted a poll for Washington High School students about Proposition 16:
73 students responded. 75.3% of them were against Proposition 16, and 24.7% supported it.
Here are some of their opinions: Click on each quote to learn more.
In Support of Prop 16:
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“I would support affirmative action because it allows people who are underprivileged to rise up in society. Though people think that this will make society more unbalanced, I believe that this will help these people who have struggled to rise and to have a chance to prosper in the world.”]
“I support Prop 16 because people in the US, for as long as I’ve lived here, have been quite discriminatory. My parents have faced discrimination themselves, and supporting Prop 16 would be like standing against discrimination.”
“I support Prop 16 because affirmative action has been a great thing for our country. Minorities in this country already face extreme amounts of hiring discrimination, harassment in the workplace, racism, sexism, homophobia, and more, so giving them an extra boost to help them is a great thing. Without this, we would not be able to use equity to achieve equality. Minorities need things like affirmative action so that we can be on a somewhat even playing field with the majority.”
“Though some may oppose this proposition because of so-called ‘discrimination,’ many fail to realize how ingrained discrimination already is in our society. The inequality from mass incarceration is staggering. Specific ethnic groups, especially Latinos and African Americans are targeted by law enforcement. Of course with reform movements, these societal issues are beginning to be tackled, but we have a long way to go. To give these minorities more opportunities, and to help them view themselves as students, not delinquents, is the first step we can take to tackling this problem. Not only that, but underrepresented minorities have not been granted the equal opportunities that Caucasians have. Many first-generation students struggle to complete the college application process because of lack of information others have the opportunity of accessing. And it is undeniable that most financially disadvantaged people are of an ethnic minority group; allowing affirmative action, then, will help more minority groups be accepted to schools and thus improve their job opportunities in the future. What better way to help these students than to provide them with an environment where they can acquire the skills to become further integrated in the American economy? Even when looking at workplaces, it is evident that allowing affirmative action will expand the diversity of a workforce and provide benefits for all. Racially integrated workplaces can promote a diverse global economy, and these workplaces can also help raise a group of unbiased leaders who will fight for social justice.”
“I support Prop 16 because I believe that recent events have shown how far we still have to go in terms of equality and true diversity of education. While many mistakenly conclude that affirmative action is racist because it considers race at all, the system of holistic review is quite different than the quota system they fear. I also believe that race is a big contributor to our environment, and thus some are more privileged than others when it comes to focus on education. Whether it be from family values on education, stress at home, financial problems, or anything else, it is important to be aware of our privileges and thus affirmative action is needed.”
Against Prop 16
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“Although it has good intentions (which is to give women and minorities a bigger opportunity in the workforce), this isn’t equality. There should be no preference towards any group of people in the law. In the workforce, those who are most fitted for the job will get the job, those who aren’t won’t get the job. That’s how it should be. Sex, race, or ethnicity should not even be taken to account when applying for a job or collage. I believe in equal opportunity because it is fair: no preference towards any group, no discrimination towards any group.”
“I don’t support it as everyone should be objectively evaluated without account of ethnicity, race, or sex.”
“Affirmative action is racist and/or sexist (depending on the form). It has been claimed that diversity for diversity’s sake is not the goal of affirmative action, but if that is true, then it is only logical to say that individuals should be chosen purely based on their qualifications, and that this practice will naturally produce both diversity and the most qualified individuals. Affirmative action has no place in a society that claims to promote equality.”
“It’s simple, I don’t want to be discriminated against for things I can’t control.”
“Affirmative Action grants preferential treatment based on race and sex. This gives me, a proud son of Chinese immigrants, a significant disadvantage compared to people of other demographics. My race can’t reflect the hard work and struggle I had to overcome.”
“Discrimination based on factors people don’t have control over does not promote equality. It is socially regressive, and immoral.”
“I do not support affirmative action because it is reverse discrimination: the past discrimination [against] minority groups does not justify present discrimination [against] non-minorities. The 14th Amendment states all people are equal under the laws of the United States. It destroys the idea of a meritocracy and instead puts race as a dominant factor in admissions [and] hiring procedures. People given a position through affirmative action are often not qualified for the job, perpetuating the stereotype that these people are “stupid.” Simply having a different race/ethnicity does not mean diversity of opinion. People with the same skin colour are not necessarily the same in opinion and culture and everyone has unique views.”
“It will only lead to other, perhaps more qualified people, being disadvantaged. Qualifications trump everything else. There’s an argument to be made that it can be difficult for some to achieve those qualifications in part due to their race or ethnicity; however, I don’t think that kind of problem [should] be handled this way. Affirmative action is more of a band-aid fix when we really should look into the source of the inequality instead.”
“The government and people who run this country should stop segregating its own people. We all live in the U.S. so start treating one another as brothers and sisters instead of enemies and rivals. It’s childish and ludicrous.”
So what are your thoughts? Feel free to leave a comment below.