Ward Connerly has a notion to make California the first truly colorblind society.
His Classification by Race, Ethnicity, Color or National Origin (CRECNO) initiative, expected to go to California voters on the March 2004 ballot, not only fails to achieve that goal but actively hinders progress toward it.
CRECNO would prohibit classification of students, employees and contractors by race, ethnicity, color or national origin. No more little boxes to check on applications or other documents of that sort.
There are a few exceptions. If the collection of racial or ethnic data is required by federal law to establish or maintain eligibility for any federal program where federal funds would be otherwise lost to the state, to describe prisoners or criminal suspects, or for medical research, it would continue to be collected.
The University of California Board of Regents recently passed a resolution opposing the initiative. As they have no direct power over the passage of the initiative, the resolution is simply a message to voters.
The message is very clear: Passing CRECNO would hinder the UC in its ability to continue to provide the highest quality education to all of California’s people and to remain a high quality research institution.
Imagine the Chicano Studies department without racial statistics, or any other department for that matter. Now imagine all professors, graduate students and potential faculty who would want to do research requiring these statistics.
And now, imagine all of those invaluable assets to our university leaving. The exodus of brilliance would be less than fantastic for our university.
It only gets worse. There are some privately funded financial aid sources that target students on the basis of ethnicity. If the University of California were unable to collect this data on potential students, there would be no way to get these funds. In other words, less money would be available to help students with the cost of their education.
Outreach programs and research could also be forced to give up private funding if they were unable to collect this information.
And really, it’s just silly to prevent the accumulation of information at an institution of higher education.
UC President Richard Atkinson called on the regents to do something in the face of the potentially disastrous results of this initiative. So they sent this message.
However, it falls on us, California voters, to actually prevent this from being passed. Ward Connerly may have the best intentions and noble visions of a colorblind society, but solutions usually come from looking at the problems, not looking away.