Arguments for and against Prop 16, which would pave the way for California to reinstate affirmative action


What would Proposition 16 do?

Proposition 16 would amend the California Constitution to allow race, ethnicity, sex, color and national origin to be considered when making decisions about accepting students to public universities, awarding state government contracts, and hiring state government workers. By doing so, Proposition 16 would pave the way for California to reinstate affirmative action policies at places such as the University of California. In the mid-1990s, state voters approved a different ballot initiative that essentially outlawed affirmative action. 

What are the arguments in favor of this?

Proponents of Proposition 16 and affirmative action point to the racial and ethnic makeup of the University of California, for example, noting that it does not reflect the demographics of the state’s overall student-age population. They also argue this ballot initiative would help state institutions diversify. The current system cannot consider something like race and therefore, the argument goes, does not take into account barriers that many groups of Californians face, for example resource deficiencies and systemic racism. 

What are the arguments against it? 

Opponents of Proposition 16 do not believe things such as race should be considered for college admissions. One argument is that affirmative action lowers standards for students of color by essentially saying a lower grade or lower test scores is acceptable because of how someone looks. The other argument is that Proposition 16 would take a spot at the University of California, for example, away from one student based on their race, ethnicity, sex or national origin and give it to another based on the same categories. Opponents want to keep the state constitution as it is.



Benjamin Gottlieb