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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Minority programs may suffer

    A host of student groups and representatives from UA offices are meeting today to discuss a proposed ballot measure that, if passed in November, could eliminate state funding for multiple university organizations aimed at assisting minorities.

    A youth town hall meeting will be held between noon and 2 p.m. in the Kiva Room of the Student Union Memorial Center to discuss the proposed Arizona Civil Rights Initiative.

    Backed by Ward Connerly, chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute, the initiative would restrict money for programs that give preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.

    “”We’re going to look at potential impacts on the campus, including cultural centers, minority scholarship funding and other diversity-related programs,”” said Jennifer Hoefle, senior coordinator of the UA’s Social Justice Leadership Center.

    UA programs such as African-American Student Affairs, the Arizona Hispanic Center of Excellence, Minority Access to Research Careers, the Minority Writing Program, Native American Student Affairs and the Writing Skills Improvement Program are listed as having racial preferences in a December policy brief by the Goldwater Institute outlining the initiative.

    Arizona is one of 10 states targeted by Connerly. Similar initiatives have already passed in California, Washington and Michigan.

    Hoefle said the meeting will consist of members of the Social Justice Leadership Center, African American Student Advisory Board, ASUA president Tommy Bruce, student regent David Martinez III and representatives from the Office of the General Council and the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office.

    She said the doors are open to anybody at the UA, adding that the meeting is unbiased and informative in nature.

    “”We’re trying to educate our campus,”” said Ezekiel Gebrekidane, a chemistry senior and member of the African American Student Advisory Board. “”We’re going to be the victims at the end of the day.””

    The meeting will open with a video interview of Connerly and present information on the initiative and how it will affect the campus and programs, Hoefle said.

    “”A lot of people aren’t really aware of it at this point, so we’re spreading the word about it a little bit,”” she said.

    If the initiative is added to the statewide ballot and gets passed, organizations like the UA’s Martin Luther King Jr. Student Center would have to open the door to everybody on campus or lose funding, Gebrekidane said.

    Such a result applied to multiple on-campus programs may indirectly keep out minority students who rely on the services they provide, he said.

    “”It’s not about black or white,”” he said. “”It’s about protecting diversity groups.””

    Public health senior Ruthie Fesahazion called the potential repercussions of the initiative “”very sad.””

    “”I don’t think people are thinking about how big this actually is,”” she said.

    Fesahazion said she thinks everybody needs to be aware that the bill could affect a larger population than just racial groups.

    “”My biggest fear is the wording of the bill is so jumbled, people will vote for it,”” she said. “”These are your fellow classmates. It can be somebody who looks like you that fits into one of these underrepresented communities.””

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