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A Year in Review: Legal/ Political Matters

Legal/ Political MattersThe University of California Board of Regents rejected fellow regent Ward Connerly’s initiative to outlaw the collection of racial data, in a 15-3 vote with one abstention, making it only the 10th time in 25 years that the university had gone on record on a state ballot measure. California residents also voted against Connerly’s initiative, Proposition 54, at the ballot box in October. Civil rights groups at the University of California at Berkeley settled a 4-year-old lawsuit charging that the university’s admissions procedures were unfairly disadvantaging minority applicants. In the lawsuit, top minority students who had been denied seats at UC-Berkeley complained about the extra points the campus was giving for advanced placement courses, noting that most schools with high-minority populations offered very few of those rigorous courses. Since the lawsuit was filed in 1999, Berkeley has modified its admissions process, and the UC system has adopted a comprehensive review policy, moving the university further away from numerical formulas.The Congressional Black Caucus partnered with Fox News Channel to hold two presidential debates this year, the first of which was held at historically Black Morgan State University in Baltimore.Harvard University’s student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, filed a lawsuit against the university in July to gain access to campus police records regarding various incidents. The lawsuit, filed with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, claims that since Harvard police officers have statewide arrest powers, they should be liable to follow state open-record laws. U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., launched a yearlong initiative to look into problems facing African American males across the country, in particular the barriers Black men convicted of drug offenses face in re-entering society. Davis, who represents West Chicago, stressed that all of the problems facing African American males are more concentrated in inner cities.The $503 million settlement reached in the Mississippi college desegregation case is “unconstitutional, unreasonable and unfair” to the state’s three historically Black universities, Al Chambliss, lawyer for the plaintiffs opposed to the deal told a federal appeals court in November. The hearing was the latest in ongoing litigation in the landmark Ayers case. The case originated in 1975 when Jake Ayers sued the state, accusing Mississippi of neglecting its Black universities for decades. Plaintiffs successfully demanded more money be put into the institutions to end discrimination. The U.S. Congress took on the Higher Education Act, which is up for reauthorization every six years. Although work on HEA will continue in 2004, discussions began on some of the items to be addressed, including student aid, and accountability and performance for colleges and universities.

Continued at Gone But Not Forgotten

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