Edited on 11/3/2020: The quote from the NOCCCD Board of Trustees was previously attributed to Ryan Bent. The quote was a statement from the board itself, not Bent as an individual. The attribution has been corrected.
The California State Assembly voted to pass the Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5 (ACA 5) after it passed in the California Senate; ACA 5 was put on California’s 2020 ballot as Proposition 16. California’s Proposition 16 may make affirmative action legal once again after California was the first state to ban it in 1996.
Proposition 16, the Repeal Proposition 209 Affirmative Action Amendment, roots back to California’s original Prop 209 that was passed by voters in 1996. Prop 209 banned affirmative action; public agencies such as local governments and state universities were no longer allowed to give preference based on race and gender. This meant that institutions would view everyone equally, without considering the inequities among BIPOC and women.
Proposition 16 was proposed in June by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) after many across the nation recognized systemic racism and the inequalities among BIPOC during the tragedies of police violence and the ongoing pandemic.
Prop 16’s amendment would overturn the 1996 proposition and California would join the 42 states where affirmative action is already legal.
A yes vote on this measure means California should again allow for affirmative action, giving the opportunity for public agencies to give preference in admission or employment based on race, gender and ethnicity. This proposition would let state agencies directly target groups of people who are underrepresented, like black and women academics in University job openings.
Those in support of this proposition include California Community Colleges, the California State University, Governor Gavin Newsom and the University of California.
“The North Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees supports Proposition 16, which would repeal provisions of Proposition 209 and reinstate affirmative action which will permit students, regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin, to access social and economic opportunities to achieve their highest potential,” according to the NOCCCD Board of Trustees.
On the other hand, a no vote on Prop 16 would mean Proposition 209 would remain in place, leaving affirmative action banned.
One of the primary arguments against this proposition is that California has already been making significant changes to benefit BIPOC and women in college enrollment and public employment. And, it is already legal to give preference to students that are in need of it, such as those who come from low-income households.
Those who oppose this proposition include Californians for Equal Rights, Students for Fair Admissions and the California Republican Party.
For more details on this proposition, all other measures, and the candidates on this year’s ballot, voterguide.sos.ca.gov.