A.S. Council to oppose CRENO initiative

    After months of informal discussion and planning, the A.S. Council unanimously passed an official resolution opposing the Classification of Race, Ethnicity and National Origin initiative, which is slated to appear on the March 2, 2004 California primary election ballot.

    The CRENO initiative, which would amend California’s constitution to prohibit the “”inquiring, profiling or collecting”” of “”race, ethnicity, color or national origin … data on government forms,”” has sparked controversy within the UC academic community since American Civil Rights Committee Chair and UC Regent Ward Connerly submitted the proposal last year.

    A vocal opponent of affirmative action policy, Connerly championed 1996’s successful Proposition 209 initiative, which banned preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in state admissions and hiring policies.

    Members of the A.S. Council, including President Jenn Brown, Commissioner of Diversity Affairs David Mitchell and Commissioner of Communications Navneet Grewal, have been vocal in their opposition to the CRENO initiative and have organized meetings for a No on CRENO coalition at UCSD.

    However, the resolution passed on Jan. 22 was the Council’s first formal statement concerning the issue. Last year’s A.S. Council passed a similar resolution shortly after Connerly introduced the proposal, known then as the Racial Privacy Initiative.

    The A.S. resolution contends that “”racial and ethnic data are essential in demonstrating the need for programs such as outreach to groups underrepresented in higher education,”” and that “”CRENO will blind California to existing racism, discrimination and social inequalities.””

    The resolution also states that UCSD outreach programs such as the Student-Initiated Outreach and Recruitment Commission, the Early Academic Outreach Program and the Office of Academic Support and Instructional Services “”may be detrimentally impacted financially by a loss of enrollment data”” if the CRENO initiative passes.

    According to A.S. Vice President Internal Kevin Hsu, who submitted the resolution to the A.S. Council, campus outreach programs work toward securing student diversity of all types at UCSD.

    “”UCSD is the least diverse of all the UCs,”” Hsu said. “”If you can’t track student representation, you can’t tell where [recruitment and retention] efforts need to be made.””

    The resolution claims that “”retention efforts are crucial to improve an unfriendly campus climate,”” citing data from a 1997 Quality of Student Life survey and a 1999 College Student Experience Questionnaire, which found that only 24 percent of black students feel a sense of belonging at UCSD compared to 49 percent of students overall. In addition, “”44 percent and 62 percent of African-American students feel their academic and social experiences, respectively, have been negatively affected by ethnicity.””

    The resolution also claims that CRENO will “”limit the effectiveness of researchers and public health policies”” at UCSD and elsewhere by interfering with the collection of medical research data.

    According to the Coalition for an Informed Californian, a principal anti-CRENO association, opponents of the CRENO initiative include the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern and Southern California, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the California Teachers Association and the League of Women Voters.

    The CRENO initiative, if passed, would become effective Jan. 1, 2005.

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