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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Forum to break down initiative

    Students have the chance today to discuss the pros and cons of a controversial initiative that, if approved by state voters in November, could hinder minority-targeted programs on campus.

    A forum on the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative will be held from noon to 2 p.m. in Gallagher Theater.

    Several student factions on campus have planned the event to spread awareness of the initiative, facilitate community dialogue and foster civic participation, said Kami Hoskins, a third-year law student and event planner.

    The event, a version of which has already occurred at Arizona State University, will feature Clint Bolick, director of the Goldwater Institute backing the initiative, as well as Dennis Shields, dean of the Phoenix School of Law, who is against it.

    “”People will walk away with two-fold knowledge,”” said Maria Mendoza, a second-year law student and event planner. “”One, they’ll be able to decipher the vague nature of the initiative, including its long- and short-term effects of how it will impact women and people of color in employment, education and other aspects in Arizona.

    “”Second, there will be the overall political awareness and understanding of the initiative, community awareness of it and a long-term engagement.””

    The initiative is based on the notion that the government should not discriminate against individuals based on such factors as race, gender and age.

    It covers areas including hiring and education, and opponents at the UA believe its passing could mean the elimination or vast restructuring of resources, including support programs and scholarships, that target minorities.

    Detractors worry not only that the initiative would strip away programs crucial for academic success, but also that the misleading wording of the initiative – which emphasizes upholding civil rights – might coerce voters into making a choice they might not otherwise make.

    “”When a lot of people read (the description), they say, ‘Hey, I’m for civil rights and against discrimination, so I should vote for this initiative,’ when really it’s inconsistent with how they would normally vote,”” Mendoza said. “”The immediate and long-term effects of the initiative could contradict the political ideologies of the voter supporting it.””

    The state House of Representatives voted down the initiative 32-27 earlier this month, and the measure waits to see an outcome in the Senate.

    The initiative was thrown out entirely in Oklahoma but still could reach ballots in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri and Nebraska.

    To be voted on statewide in November, the initiative must receive 233,000 signatures of support by July 3.

    The Associated Students of the University of Arizona, on the urging of Sen. Ezekiel Gebrekidane, issued an official statement opposing the initiative during its Wednesday meeting of the Senate.

    The statement reads, “”(B)ecause the proposed ‘Arizona Civil Rights Initiative’ threatens the full and active participation of a diverse population of students, faculty, staff and administration at the University of Arizona, ASUA officially opposes this proposed ballot measure.””

    Today’s forum has been in the works since a March 5 on-campus town hall meeting that addressed the issue, Mendoza said.

    “”We don’t want to sing in the same choir,”” Gebrekidane said. “”We want to educate people and have them make the right decision for themselves.””

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