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Opinion: Vote NO on Proposition 16 — A racist solution to racism

(Image courtesy of Vivian Huang)

In June 2020, the University of California endorsed the Assembly Constitutional Amendment No. 5 (ACA-5), which caught the attention and aroused the dissatisfaction of many people. 

ACA-5 is a bill that seeks to revoke Proposition 209, which is the amendment to the California Constitution added in 1996 that eliminates affirmative action and establishes that race cannot be considered in terms of public university admissions and government contracts. Proposition 16 will allow voters to strike down or approve ACA-5 and will appear on the California ballot on Nov. 3.

In the Declaration of Independence, the founding fathers of the United States declared that “All men are created equal.” However, Proposition 16 would allow public university admissions and government contract decisions to be based on race and skin color, which is not treating everyone as equals. 

According to the fall enrollment data from the University of California, Asan Americans make up 30% of the UC student population.  The Asian Americans in California, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, only make up 15.5% of the state’s population and make up only 5.4% in the entire U.S.

Based on these population statistics, 15% seems like a fair percentage of Asian descent students at UCs. However, the problem is not about fair representation but about having a fair merit-based system.

If there are that many Asian descent students who are performing well enough to get a spot at a UC, then shouldn’t they have a right to that spot? 

I totally understand the reason for establishing the Proposition 16 — people want to level the playing field, especially after centuries of educational barriers for Black and Brown Americans. However, Proposition 16 blocks Asian American students from coveted spots in the colleges of their choice, which is especially unfair if those students have proven they are well qualified for those spots.

There must be a better solution than a zero-sum game where spots are taken away from deserving Asian American students to be given to disadvantaged students of other minority groups; there must be a win-win for all.

For example, instead of focusing on college as the place for reform and change, to really provide “equal” opportunity for every ethnicity to get into the college of their choice, I believe the government should be more focused on K-12 education instead of putting all the pressure on college admissions. 

If we really want to make college admissions equal, we should be focused on the starting line and the rest of the race, not just the finish line. Provide students with the best educational opportunities from K-12 so that everyone has a more equal chance at getting those limited spots in the college of their choice. 

Of course, changing one simple admissions policy is much easier than trying to improve poverty and make equal the K-12 education of all students in California, but that is exactly why we should stop looking for quick-fix solutions and focus on the deep problems of inequity. 

So I strongly disagree with the establishment of Proposition 16, whether it is from the perspective of racial equality or poverty, this is not a solution that can really solve the problem of American society today.

Right now we can only say that Proposition 16 is the most racist policy against racism. Californians should vote NO on Proposition 16.

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