The campus, in concert with the Office of the President, is reviewing campus employment, contracting and educational programs in response to the passage Nov. 6 of Proposition 209, the California Civil Rights Initiative.
The overriding message -- from Chancellor Tien, UC President Richard C. Atkinson and Tirso del Junco, chair of the Board of Regents -- was that the campus and the UC system is committed to serving the diverse population of the state well into the future.
This was also the essential message the campus's top administrators -- including Tien and vice chancellors Horace Mitchell and Genaro Padilla -- have been delivering to students, some who have responded to the new law with rallies and demonstrations.
In a memorandum to deans, directors and department chairs, Chancellor Tien said he has asked the vice chancellors to "establish procedures to expedite the thorough and coordinated review" of all programs that may be affected by the new legislation. Sheila O'Rourke, academic compliance officer, will staff the effort.
Tien noted that in some cases, the correct interpretation of the law and its applications to particular programs or practices will require consultation with the Office of the President and the Office of the General Counsel. In some instances, it may also depend on the outcome of anticipated litigation, he said.
"I can assure you that in implementing this legislation on the Berkeley campus, we will remain fully committed to retaining a culturally diverse environment that serves the needs of members of all races and ethnic groups," said Tien.
What has been made clear already is that the choice of what to include in curricular programs is a fundamental aspect of the university's academic freedom protected by the First Amendment.
The campus will not modify curricular programs such as Ethnic Studies, Scandinavian Studies and Women's Studies pursuant to the passage of Proposition 209. Such programs do not grant preferential treatment to any student on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.
C. Judson King, UC provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, has provided guidelines for areas that may be affected by the proposition -- hiring and contracting, graduate and professional school admissions, undergraduate admissions, financial aid, outreach programs and other UC race, ethnic or gender attentive programs. (See Guidance on Implementation.)
Atkinson, in a letter to the university community, said that in light of the proposition's passage, UC must look to the broader issue of how "we can best fulfill our responsibilities as a public university in the nation's most ethnically and culturally diverse state.
Atkinson outlined several steps he will take to assure continuing diversity, including accelerating UC's efforts to strengthen and expand outreach programs. "I am confident we have the individual and institutional resolve to keep the commitment to diversity alive for the next generations of Californians."
Del Junco also said that working with K-12 schools is most important in meeting the "enduring commitment to diversity." He said the regents "will work with President Atkinson, the chancellors and everyone who cares about education in our state..."
The new state constitutional amendment prohibits discrimination against, or preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.
Berkeley already complies with state and federal civil rights law. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, color or national origin in any of its programs.
In accordance with the Resolution SP-2 which was passed by the UC Regents July 20, 1995, and became effective Jan. 1, 1996, the campus currently does not allow the use of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin as criteria in employment and contracting.
The campus is in the process of modifying its admissions policies to eliminate use of race and gender as criteria in admissions, as mandated by the regents' resolution SP-1. These changes were slated for implementation in fall 1997 for graduate admissions policies and fall 1998 for the undergraduate policies. The campus will accelerate the implementation date as needed to comply with Proposition 209.
The campus will examine the remaining educational programs to determine which, if any, "grant preferential treatment" based on race or gender. It is unclear how the term "preferential treatment" will be interpreted under the new constitutional amendment. As this definition is clarified, the campus will modify programs as needed to achieve compliance.
Because the proposition does not prohibit university actions that are necessary to remain eligible for federal funding, the campus will continue to comply with federal affirmative action regulations.