Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Anti-Affirmative Action Bill Defeated

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Anti-Affirmative Action Bill Defeated

Article excerpt

The House of Representatives this month defeated an attempt to implement a Proposition 209-like proposal that would have imposed a similar anti-affirmative action law on the nation.

Following heated debates the House defeated an amendment by Rep. Frank Riggs (R-Calif.) that would have banned public colleges and universities from using race or gender in admissions decisions. Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) leaders, higher education officials, and House Democratic leaders mounted a large public campaign against the plan, which failed by a vote of 249-171.

A ban on affirmative action in admissions "is nothing more than a scheme to return the system of higher education to the bad old days of racial segregation," said Rep. William Clay (DMo.), a CBC member and senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee. "If we follow that direction, our schools will again become a bastion of White, male, good old boys."

Leading the opposition on the House floor, Clay noted that many prospective college students get special treatment including children of alumni and wealthy donors and those with athletic talent. "It is a cruel hoax to declare that we live in a colorblind society in which only merit counts," he added.

Critics cited a wealth of figures about the danger of Proposition 209 in California alone, where African American, Latino. and American Indian enrollment has plunged by more than half at the University of California-Berkeley. More than 800 students of color with grade point averages of 4.0 and SAT scores of 1200 or better were denied admission to Berkeley under the Proposition 209 standard.

Riggs, the sponsor of the plan, sought to include it in H.R. 6, the Higher Education Act reauthorization bill moving through the House of Representatives. He claimed it is unfair to single out groups for preferential treatment. …

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