Washington State Ballot Referendum Could Reinstate Affirmative Action in College Admissions

Eight states have enacted bans on the consideration of race in admission decisions at public colleges and universities. They are: Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Washington.

In 1998, voters in Washington passed Initiative 200 by a wide margin. This initiative prohibited state-operated colleges and universities from considering race in admission decisions.

This year, the legislature has acted to allow the state’s voters to approve a referendum that would allow public colleges and universities once again to consider race in admissions decisions. Voters will be presented with a choice to “allow the state to remedy discrimination for certain groups and to implement affirmative action, without the use of quotas or preferential treatment (as defined), in public education, employment, and contracting.”

The summary of the measure that will appear on the ballot states that “this measure would allow the state to remedy documented or proven discrimination against, or underrepresentation of, certain disadvantaged groups. It would allow the state to implement affirmative action in public education, employment, and contracting if the action does not use quotas or preferential treatment.”


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