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Speaking from the Heart on the Impact of Prop. 209

By Cathy Cockrell, Public Affairs
posted September 16, 1998

Proposition 209, the 1996 ban on affirmative action measures, touches the lives of campus staff, faculty and students in differing ways, some of them painful and personal.

Members of the campus community will share their experiences on the effects of the new law at a two-part event Tuesday, Sept. 29, and Thursday, Oct. 1, from noon to 1:30 p.m. The forum and discussion will take place in the Tilden Room of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Student Union.

Tuesday's meeting will feature a panel discussion by campus staff. On Thursday participants will continue the dialogue in small groups.

"In the Tang Center we're privileged to hear from patients and clients every day," said Steve Lustig, director of University Health Services, one of the organizers of the event.

His staff, he said, hear of heightened tensions among staff with different viewpoints on 209; difficulty talking about the issues, especially for people who favor the measure; feelings of loss, anger and worry about the future among people of color and others who support affirmative action; and ethical conflicts for staff struggling to reconcile personal beliefs with institutional demands.

Counselors at UHS's CARE Services, along with the Staff Affirmative Action Office, Project DARE and others, organized the event as a way to support those affected most deeply by 209 and to encourage mutually respectful dialogue.

"Finding a way to support the entire campus community, while still addressing the needs of different people, was not easy," said Staff Affirmative Action Office director Edith Ng. "But we agreed early on that pretending the impacts aren't there, or hoping that they would go away if we didn't talk about them, is not acceptable."


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