Referendum Targets Affirmative Action in University Admissions in Arizona

In 2008 Ward Connerly, the African-American businessman who led the successful efforts to ban race-sensitive university admissions in California, Washington, Michigan, and other states, tried to get a similar public referendum on the ballot in the state of Arizona. But supporters failed to gather enough valid signatures from registered voters to earn a place on the ballot.

Opponents of affirmative action then turned to the state legislature. Now both houses of the Arizona legislature have agreed to place a public referendum on the ballot in 2010. Under Arizona law the legislature has the power to place referenda on the ballot without the approval of the governor. The measure, if adopted, would ban the consideration of race in admissions at the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and other publicly operated colleges and universities.

Blacks are 3 percent of the students at the University of Arizona and 4 percent of the students at Arizona State.