Students urge regents to repeal SP-1
Board to discuss issue at May meeting in San Francisco

By Marina Dundjerski, UCLA Public Affairs

22 March 2001 | LOS ANGELES — In May the UC Board of Regents may revisit SP-1, its ban on affirmative action in admissions, but a repeal of the ban would be mostly symbolic because Proposition 209 passed by California voters in 1996 remains state law.

However, several regents who favor the repeal say the action would encourage more minority students to attend the university system and send an important message about UC.

“The regents are going to repair the reputation of the University of California,” said Regent William Bagley, the leading proponent of the repeal on the board, who said UC is seen as the “genesis” of a “divisive” national movement.

“We’re going to tell future boards to stay the devil out of politics. What happened five or six years ago is unconscionable.”

But Bagley said he favors not bringing up the repeal for a vote until advocates feel there is enough support to reverse the ban.

During the regents’ meeting at UCLA March 14-15, Regent Sue Johnson, who has come out publicly against a repeal, called for a discussion of the issue at their May meeting in San Francisco.

“I am asking General Counsel James Holst and President (Richard) Atkinson to prepare to report to the full board about the range of educational and other issues that might be involved in the possible repeal of SP-1,” said Johnson, chair of the board. “In the meantime, I urge that the debate over SP-1 take place in a calm and careful manner — we all agree that we would want to see no harm come to this magnificent university.”

In opposing the repeal, Johnson, in an editorial published in the Los Angeles Times, said, “The better message to send is that we are all committed to continuing to provide access and diversity without artificial preferences being given to anyone based on race or ethnicity. The fact is, UC’s door remains open to the best and brightest.”

Student groups, including the California Statewide Affirmative Action Coalition and the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary, have been actively calling for a repeal to SP-1 for months. On March 8, more than 1,000 students, mostly from local high schools, protested in Berkeley, demanding a repeal of the ban. Protests continued at the regents’ meeting at UCLA, where an estimated 1,000 students from across the state picketed.

Several students made passionate pleas to the regents during the opening day’s public comment period.

“You have the opportunity today to take down the not-wanted sign that students of color see at the UC and prove to the state and the nation that the UC values diversity,” UCLA student Cynthia Mosqueda told the regents.

Berkeley student Hoku Jeffrey added: “We’re not going to stand for the state of California to be the Alabama of the 21st century. You must right the wrong that you made six years ago.”

After the regents concluded their meeting without acting on SP-1, about 200 students occupied Royce Hall, cancelling a Los Angeles mayoral debate.

The protests are the latest efforts among UC and state high school students calling for the UC Regents to repeal the ban on affirmative action in University of California admissions.

At Berkeley, students who helped with student recruitment in past years have said they won’t participate in efforts this spring to encourage admitted students to enroll. The campus typically supports the expenses of student groups who call newly admitted students and host their visits on campus.

Chancellor Berdahl said the campus will use the $27,000 that could have been used by these students for other recruitment activities involving alumni, staff and other volunteers.

Marina Dundjerski with UCLA Public Affairs covered the March regents meeting for the Berkeleyan and UCLA Today, the faculty/staff newspaper at UCLA.


Home | Search | Archive | About | Contact | More News

Copyright 2000, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.

Comments? E-mail