UC Regent Ward Connerly Dealt Setback Over Ethnic-Themed Events
University of California regents handed fellow board member and activist Ward Connerly a defeat last month, voting down his proposal to stop funding ethnic graduations and gay freshman orientation.
Connerly, who led the fight to drop race-conscious admissions some years ago, had tried to withdraw his item, which had come under heavy criticism. But fellow regents insisted on a vote, defeating it 6-3 in committee.
Connerly had proposed banning UC funds from going to events targeted to students of a particular race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Connerly, who is of mixed heritage, although he is mostly commonly referred to as Black, had argued that events targeted to particular groups serve more to segregate students than unite them.
“Our diversity initiatives ought to be designed to not just cause us to tolerate people who are different, but to accept them … and to try to harmonize those differences into a societal whole,” he says.
Connerly said he had decided to withdraw the item after hearing some “compelling” arguments from student Regent Matt Murray in favor of the events, particularly freshman orientation.
But other regents pushed for a vote.
“This is what America and California is all about. It’s a … celebration in terms of ‘We made it,’ ” said Regent Odessa Johnson, who recently attended a Black graduation ceremony for her daughter at UCLA. “This is not divisive. It is a bringing together.”
Under Proposition 209, the state initiative successfully led by Connerly in 1996, race or gender cannot be taken into account in public hiring, contracting or education.
UC officials say sponsoring events such as ethnic graduations is legal because the decision to give money is not based on racial criteria but on how many students will be served. They note the events are open to all students.
— Associated Press
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com