Editor, Daily Nexus,
With elections approaching, I wanted to take this opportunity to address some questions I have been receiving from students and other members of our campus community regarding Proposition 54, the Classification by Race, Ethnicity, Color or National Origin (CRECNO) initiative.
UCSB is committed to enrolling a student body that demonstrates high academic achievement and also encompasses the cultural, racial, geographic, economic and social diversity of California. Enrollment statistics containing racial and ethnic data are a helpful and important tool – although by no means the only tool – used in measuring what we do to achieve that goal. As UC President Richard Atkinson noted, the University of California collected such statistics in order to fulfill its mission.
The proposed initiative could restrict the University’s ability to collect, analyze and use these data for a number of internal and other purposes critical to its mission.
In addition to admissions and enrollment, these statistics are used at the campus level: in student financial aid, faculty and staff employment, educational outreach, planning and other areas, both to make certain that we comply with state and federal regulations and to gauge the effectiveness of our program and initiatives. Academic research in many fields by our faculty members also depends on such data.
After extensive review and consultation, the University of California Academic Council (UCAC) and the executive committee of the UC Academic Senate voted unanimously to oppose CRECNO, and called upon the UC Board of Regents to do likewise. President Atkinson, with the support of the UC Chancellors (including me), also recommended that the Regents oppose the ballot initiative. On May 15, 2003, the UC regents voted 15 to 3, with one abstention, to oppose the initiative now known as Proposition 54.
I personally support and agree with the analysis of President Atkinson, UCAC and the Regents that Proposition 54 will impede University research and make it impossible for the University to measure the success of its diversity efforts.
Of course, as with any political issue, there is a range of views regarding the potential impact of Proposition 54. Such debate is an integral part of an academic community such as ours. As UCSB’s chancellor, I do not see it as my place to advocate a particular position, but I do urge you to become informed about CRECNO and other initiatives appearing on the Oct. 7 ballot. Our University of California website offers a helpful guide to election issues, at http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/oct03election.html.
These issues affect you, and as voters and members of our academic community, you have both a right and a responsibility to have a say in how they are decided.