California Legislator Wants to Overturn Proposition 209 Prohibition on the Consideration of Race in Admissions by State-Operated Colleges and Universities

Assemblyman Ed Hernandez of West Covina, California, has introduced legislation seeking to remove state-operated universities from the provisions of Proposition 209. In 1996 voters in California approved Proposition 209, which bans the consideration of race in the hiring or contracting by any agency of the state government or in admissions decisions to state-operated colleges or universities. Immediately after the passage of Proposition 209, black enrollments plummeted at the University of California at Berkeley, the state’s flagship educational institution. Today, black enrollments at Berkeley remain far below the level that existed prior to the enactment of Proposition 209.

The Hernandez bill would authorize recruitment and outreach programs that directly targeted blacks and other minority students. Two thirds of both houses of the state legislature would have to approve the measure in order for the resolution to be placed on the statewide ballot for voter approval.