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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Prop 107 to have messy unintended consequences

Arizona voters approved Proposition 107, poorly nicknamed the “”Civil Rights Amendment,”” on Nov. 2. The initiative prohibits employers and educational institutions from “”giving preferential treatment to or discriminating against any person or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.”” Proponents of the measure claimed it would end preferential treatment based on race, diversity “”quotas”” in education and employment and other forms of so-called affirmative action. They also made the disingenuous claim that such “”preferential treatment”” gave minorities and women the impression that they were inferior and needed government help. Proposition 107, they claimed, would eliminate that racist attitude.

If the designers and supporters of Prop. 107 had actually wanted to eliminate racism and level the playing field, which is doubtful to begin with, they should have looked a little harder at the legislation they were writing. Businesses and schools already prohibit discrimination based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin, as President Robert Shelton noted in his State of the University Address in November. Hiring quotas and “”reverse discrimination”” are, by and large, paranoid myths perpetuated by people who feel threatened by the blossoming diversity in their communities and workplaces. It’s sad that such people had the funds and silver tongues to convince the voting public that Proposition 107 was meant to defend civil rights. In reality, it’s mostly redundant.

Instead of achieving its purported goal of eliminating practices that have long since been done away with, the measure is set to have a whole host of sad, unintended consequences. At the UA, rather than eliminating imaginary discriminatory hiring and admissions practices, Proposition 107 may cut funding to already under-funded and underrepresented demographics. According to a Nov. 29 report in the Daily Wildcat, Shelton said the measure will likely affect “”things like programs that are designed to attract more women into engineering, something that business leaders and the scientific community have identified as one of higher education’s most critical priorities.””

In other words, by eliminating such programs, the UA is likely to become less competitive when it comes to employers looking to hire graduates. Raji Rhys, special advisor to the president for diversity and inclusion, reiterated this point, saying, “”Our biggest concern … is that potential students or employees from populations that have been underserved in our state may feel that they are not welcome at the UA.”” Banning the university from reaching out to underrepresented groups flies in the face of what makes both good educational and business sense.

This is perhaps the most disappointing consequence of the new law. By eliminating programs that create opportunities for demographics that lack access to education, Arizona is effectively telling those demographics that they are not welcome. By attempting to eradicate racism, the architects of Prop. 107 have only served to deepen the divide between those who have access to educational and job opportunities, and those who do not.

The measure, in short, will have virtually none of its advertised outcomes, and a whole host of unjust, unintended consequences. And while Shelton and other UA leaders remain hopeful that the effects here at the UA will be small, or at least manageable, if even one deserving student is turned away, denied aid or made to feel unwelcome at the UA because of this ill-advised measure, then we will all have suffered for it. Hopefully, our university will find ways to follow what Shelton called “”the letter of the law,”” while continuing to provide a safe, welcoming and accessible educational environment for all.

— Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Heather Price-Wright, Luke Money, Colin Darland and Steven Kwan. They can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.  

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