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University of California endorses state's affirmative action measure

UC President said the ban on affirmative action did not make sense in that the university is supposed to evaluate applicants through "multiple dimensions."

SAN FRANCISCO — The University of California's governing board is unanimously backing a measure that would restore affirmative action programs at its schools. The proposed ballot measure would repeal the controversial voter-approved statewide ban that's been blamed for a decline in diversity in the prestigious university system.

The vote Monday by the university system's Board of Regents means the UC endorses a proposal that would ask voters in November to repeal 1996's Proposition 209 that banned "preferential treatment" for minority groups applying to state colleges and government jobs.   

UC President Janet Napolitano said in a press release that it didn't make sense to exclude any considerations of race for admissions when the university system's process is meant to evaluate applicants through "multiple dimensions."  

"Proposition 209 has forced California public institutions to try to address racial inequality without factoring in race, even where allowed by federal law," Napolitano said. "The diversity of our university and higher education institutions across California, should — and must — represent the rich diversity of our state."

Board Chair John Perez said in a press release that the UC's decision to endorse the bill is apart of momentum to address centuries of racism within the country. 

“As we continue to explore all the University's opportunities for action, I am proud UC endorsed giving California voters the chance to erase a stain, support opportunity and equality, and repeal Proposition 209,” Perez said. 

UC's endorsement of the proposal comes less than a week after the California Assembly decided to allow voters to choose whether or not to repeal's the state's ban on affirmative action programs.  It still must pass the state Senate to go on the Nov. 3 ballot.   

Californians voted to end affirmative action programs in 1996. According to the Associated Press, California's ban on affirmative action was inspired partly by a 1978 U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed universities to use race as a factor in admissions. The case began from UC, Davis School of Medicine, according to the Associated Press. 

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