On Friday afternoon, the state Senate narrowly voted down
legislation that would have banned racial preferences in public
college admissions and government hiring in Colorado.
Sen. Ed Jones proposed the bill, citing his personal experience
with racism while growing up as an African American in segregated
“Put simply, affirmative action is a legally sanctioned form of
racial discrimination and every form of discrimination has its
victims,” Jones, R-El Paso County, wrote in an e-mail.
The bill was defeated with an 18-17 vote when Republican Sen.
Lewis Entz of Hooper, Colo., voted with Democrats.
“It didn’t surprise me at all that Sen. Entz opposed the bill,”
said Sen. Paula Sandoval, D-Denver. “It’s an issue that I don’t
think should have been party line, but we owe him a debt of
gratitude to vote his convictions.”
Entz opposed the bill to represent his constituency, which
includes a large number of Hispanic citizens.
Sen. Peggy Reeves, D-Larimer, said the debate on racial
preferences lasted longer than an hour and was “one of the best
debates we’ve had all session.”
Yet, at the end of the debate Reeves remained opposed to the
“The bill assumes that everyone is seen as equal, everyone is
treated equitably and that there is no racial preference in the
U.S. or in Colorado,” Reeves said. “I feel we aren’t there
Presently, the Colorado Commission on Higher Education permits
race as one consideration, among many, when admitting students to
public colleges and universities.
In an interview on Feb. 12, Provost/Academic Vice President
Peter Nicholls said diversity is important on the CSU campus. On
Monday, university spokesman Tom Milligan said the university
supports Nicholls’ comments.
“As we look at students we look at many, many things that they
could bring to the institution, we are not attaching any points to
(racial background), but we take a holistic look at the students
and what that student is going to be able to contribute,” Nicholls
Jones argued that his bill would have been a step toward ending
the discrimination caused by the use of racial preference in higher
“Affirmative action inherently assumes that minorities are
incapable of achieving without a handout from government. This is
just plain wrong and marginalizes capable minorities everywhere,”
Yet, as a college professor at Metropolitan State College, Sen.
Bob Hagedorn said the bill’s passage would have hurt diversity in
“I don’t believe America is as colorblind yet as the proponents
of the bill would suggest,” said Hagedorn, D-Aurora. “A lot of
deserving Latinos and minorities would be potentially closed out
from getting a college education at the college of their
Despite the bill’s death on the Senate floor, Jones said he
still plans to pursue a ban on racial preferences in the
“Unfortunately, some of my colleagues in the Colorado Senate
believe that continued racial discrimination can somehow mend
racial problems in America,” Jones wrote. “The road ahead is indeed
not an easy one; I believe, however, that this is only a temporary