UC Student Association and a Los Angeles politician are demanding the regents censure UC Regent Ward Connerly after his recent defense of Sen. Trent Lott’s comments at Strom Thurmond’s birthday party.
UCSA requested a formal apology from Connerly last week after his remarks on “Wolf Blitzer Reports” in which he defended Trent Lott’s comments concerning Strom Thurmond’s unsuccessful1948 bid for the presidency on a segregationist platform.
“Supporting segregation need not be racist. One can believe in segregation and believe in equality of the races, so it doesn’t necessarily make it racist, but I think it’s certainly a poor direction for this nation to have pursued, namely segregation,” Connerly said in the Dec. 13 interview.
“I won’t say that he’s racist. I don’t think he is. I think one could believe in equality of the races as he has talked about and believe that the races should remain separate and not have a notion that black people are inferior, for example. But I just cannot reconcile those words that he said. I don’t know what he could have meant by ‘all those problems.'”
Boalt Law Schoolstudent Mo Kashmira and UCSA, of which he is a member, disagrees with Connerly.
“Separate but equal is inherently unequal, and the U.S. decided that 50 years ago.” he said. “He says he’s there to promote a racially equal society and here he is saying segregation is ok.”
UCSA voted unanimously last Tuesday on a position paper demanding a formal apology from Connerly for his statements.
Connerly told a reporter for the Alameda Newspaper Group, “I’m not apologizing, tell [UCSA members] to go to hell.”
UCSA is now asking the regents to censure Connerly for both his comments on CNN and his response to the apology request.
“He’s basically saying ‘fuck you’ to all the students,” Kashimira said. “I really didn’t think he’d do that. I think we caught him off guard. He just made things worse for himself.”
In a statement Thursday Connerly refused to apologize for any of his recent remarks.
“These students are playing politics and I have no time for it,” Connerly said in the statement.
UCSA was joined Friday by state assemblyman Dario Frommer (D-43), in calling on the regents to censure Connerly. Frommer said he is “outraged” by Connerly’s comments about Lott.
“If Assemblyman Dario Frommer wants to ask the regents to ‘censor’ me, which would be a foolish activity on his part, I will deal with it when it happens,” Connerly said in the statement. “But I understand that Assemblyman Frommer is a thoughtful legislator who will not be duped into dealing with something as foolish as this.”
UCSA members had planned to attend Thursday’s regents meeting to confront Connerly in the public comment period, however, after learning of Connerly’s intent to not attend the meeting, the group decided the trip would be futile and instead gave out a press release at the Wednesday meeting.
Connerly is known for his part in Proposition 209, which made affirmative action illegal in California and has been criticized ever since by UCSA and other student groups.
“Students on campus are already concerned about racial equality. Then to have one of our regents say these things about segregation is shocking,” Kashmira said. “Ward Connerly is 50 years behind on race matters.”
Kashmira said Connerly’s remarks could negatively effect diversity at UC, especially after the repeal of affirmative action.
“This University has worked really hard after Prop 209 passed to increase racial equality,” Kashmira said. “We’re losing students of color at UC because they think it’s just a crazy place, they don’t feel welcome here.”