Apr 302007
Authors: Jessi Stafford

Colorado is one of four states currently targeted to ban affirmative action as Ward Connerly, who initiated the push to end affirmative action in California in 1997, promotes the end of minority preferences in the areas of employment, education and business.

Connerly is also looking at Arizona, Oklahoma and Missouri.

The possibility of the ban passing could change the way CSU implements the hiring and admissions process.

The fact is, though, it may be too soon to tell.

“It’s really difficult to speculate the potential impact,” CSU Diversity & Equal Opportunity Director Dana Hiatt said. “There can be a real difference between what it actually says on the ballot and what the group proposes.”

Currently, CSU does have an affirmative action plan, as federal law requires, but it does not include preferential affirmative action, Hiatt said.

Preferential affirmative action would make the university meet a specific number, or percentage, of minorities in the student and staff population, even if the individuals don’t necessarily meet all of the university’s expectations.

“Our affirmative action plan is not a preferential plan,” Hiatt said. “Our plan identifies barriers and works to eliminate the barriers.”

The fact that CSU doesn’t practice preferential treatment makes the consequences of the possible ban difficult to predict. However, those who have worked hard to increase diversity in states that have already implemented a ban have experienced increased difficulty in achieving their goals, Hiatt said.

“It’s very important to watch and see what is happening and what actually ends up on the ballot, if anything, and compare it with other states” she said. “Then, look at what is on the ballot and what that means for the university.”

Colorado is one of the 25 states where a change in the constitution is less complicated to implement than others because it permits citizen petitions, according to CSU political science professor John Straayer.

“They are targeting Colorado because it’s easy,” Straayer said.

So easy in fact, that Connerly only has to collect signatures from 5 percent of the population who voted in the last Colorado election, which is a comparatively low amount of signatures required, Straayer said.

“It’s too easy for individual interest groups to tinker with our constitution,” he said. “There is a widespread feeling in the state that the number needs to raise.”

News editor Jessi Stafford can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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