Regents publicly denounce CRECNO

    Following more than a year of research, the University of California Board of Regents decided on May 15 to come out publicly against a 2004 ballot measure that seeks to stop local and state bodies from collecting racial or ethnic data.

    Regent Ward Connerly, who authored the initiative, said that although he was “”disappointed”” that, according to him, there was no serious research or discussion of the issues at stake, he does not expect the Regents’ decision to hurt the campaign.

    “”This was not something that we had attached an awful lot of significance to,”” Connerly said. “”We thought that the issue will stand or fall on its own merits.””

    The initiative, which was originally known as the Racial Privacy Initiative but later renamed by the Secretary of State’s office to the Classification by Race, Ethnicity, Color or National Origin initiative, would prohibit the state and other public entities from classifying individuals by race, ethnicity, color or national origin. Exemptions would be allowed to prevent the loss of federal funds and for “”medical research subjects and patients.”” If approved by California voters in March 2004, the initiative would amend the state constitution.

    The 15-3 vote by the Regents was made after it was determined that CRECNO would hinder the university’s ability to conduct basic and policy-related research as well as interfere with academic research conducted by scholars primarily focused in the social sciences.

    Citing the demographic diversity of the state as well as the growth of multiracial individuals, Connerly said the board’s discussions failed to address what he felt was the primary issue as to how race and ethnicity are defined.

    “”In this state, as a result of the enormous changes demographically, we have reached the point where the categories that we use are almost meaningless,”” he said, adding that while the University of California uses five categories for race, the U.S. Census Bureau uses 63.

    The university said it collects racial and ethnic data for various purposes that include admission and enrollment practices as well as for assessments of the effectiveness of outreach programs. Data is also used to evaluate faculty and staff employment and contracting policies in order to conform to federal and state regulations.

    Pursuant to Proposition 209, the regents’ Standing Policy 1 and RE-28 policies already ensure that race, religion, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin are not used as criteria in the UC admissions process.

    The decision to oppose the measure was also recommended by UC President Richard C. Atkinson and the UC Academic Senate.

    Regents John Davies and Peter Preuss joined Connerly in voting against the stance. Chair John Moores, who hosted a fund-raiser for Connerly seeking support for the initiative, abstained.

    The vote by the Regents to oppose the measure is a rare act — with similar stances having occurred only nine times prior over the past 25 years — for measures other than education facilities bond acts.

    UC students from across the state came to San Francisco to voice their opposition to CRECNO during the May 14 and 15 Regents meeting.

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