Sep 042008
 
Authors: Trevor Simonton

As a controversial amendment that aims to eliminate state-sponsored affirmative action programs comes to the ballot in November, CSU officials say the amendment could affect some admissions and scholarships.

“Currently we look at a variety of factors to consider for enrollment: grades, previous experiences and successes . one can be gender or race, but [prospective students] have never been required to provide such information,” said Brad Bohlander, a university spokesman.

CSU Policies Affected

Bohlander said university-sponsored scholarships should not be affected in any way, but donor-sponsored scholarships that target a specific gender or ethnic group will.

Such scholarships will not be discontinued, but the university will no longer be able to manage them — they will have to be completely independent of the university.

As for admissions, Bohlander said if the amendment passes, race and gender will no longer be something that can help determine enrollment.

He said he is currently unsure of exactly what will change in the admissions department, and that there will be more information on that in the coming weeks, but the voter initiative should not affect the student body significantly.

“We’ve got the legal office and administration looking for possible issues,” he said. “We do not anticipate any significant impacts.”

But he said in the last few years a lot of changes have been made to CSU policy in anticipation of something like Amendment 46, including the renaming of the Advocacy Cluster in the Division of Student Affairs to Student Diversity Programs.

Linda Ahuna-Hamill, assistant vice president for Student Affairs, said the name change does not come as a direct result of Amendment 46, but rather as an attempt to make the name more descriptive of what the program does.

However, she did say that with the current name, the offices would be considered non-compliant under the law.

“As a public institution, if Amendment 46 passes, we will comply with the law and the will of the people,” Bohlander said. “However, we will uphold our mission as a state land grant institution that is founded on the ideal of equal access and opportunity for people from all walks of life.”

Challenging 46

Opponents say the language of Amendment 46, otherwise known as the Colorado Civil Rights Initiative, is confusing and deceptive.

“The ballot initiative uses language from the Civil Rights Act to close opportunity to women and minorities,” said Craig Hughes, an organizer of the Vote No on 46 campaign.

Ward Connerly, an African-American businessman from California who spearheads the Amendment 46 campaign, argued that his opponents are the ones distorting the truth, and that the language of the amendment could not be clearer.

The amendment states that it will ban race and gender preferences in state contracting, hiring and education.

But Hughes and other opponents to the amendment argue that many do not realize this means the amendment will ban state-sponsored affirmative action programs.

Connerly said he intentionally used language from the 1960’s Civil Rights Act because he feels that Amendment 46 walks in the same path.

“The argument that the initiative is misleading is baloney; it’s hypocritical,” Connerly said. “There is nothing fraudulent in the language.”

“I believe devoutly in the equal treatment of all people,” he said. “The law is the Civil Rights Act, and over the years the government has deviated from that in the interest of racial inequality — we need to get back on track.”

Vote No on 46 brought a legal challenge to Connerly’s initiative in Denver district court based on the way signatures necessary to initiate the amendment were collected, Hughes said.

Those collecting signatures allegedly were not Colorado residents or had listed false addresses.

The trial has been delayed for an undeclared length of time, however, pending the results of a similar case involving the opposing initiative. Also brought forth by the Vote No on 46 campaign was Colorado Initiative 82, which reads almost exactly like Amendment 46, adding a line that protects affirmative action programs.

But these efforts were thwarted Wednesday when the Colorado Secretary of State’s office declared that 42 percent of the signatures collected for the initiative were invalid — the initiative will not make it to the ballot.

Connerly’s

Controversy

Donna Stern, a coordinator with a coalition that defends affirmative action called By Any Means Necessary, said her organization has followed Connerly’s campaign for similar initiatives around the country in opposition.

She said BAMN exposed voter fraud in Connerly’s campaigns in Oklahoma, Missouri and Arizona, but does not have the resources to follow him in Colorado.

BAMN members shadowed contractors hired by Connerly to collect signatures in Michigan, and said that they were lying to people, telling them they were signing up to support affirmative action, when quite the opposite was true.

In spite of legal action, Connerly’s proposals have passed in Michigan and California.

However, in Arizona over 40 percent of the signatures collected by Connerly were found to be invalid due to BAMN’s efforts, and the ballot initiative was withdrawn.

Stern said that BAMN’s efforts revealed similar instances of fraud in Connerly’s campaign in Oklahoma and Missouri. In Arizona, BAMN members video-taped Connerly’s supporters paying people at a homeless shelter $1.35 for every signature they could find — without verifying where they were coming from.

“Nowhere do ordinary citizens just go out and collect signatures,” Connerly said. “If you want to get an initiative on the ballot, you have to pay people to go and get the signatures.”

When asked about BAMN, Connerly said, “They are a bunch of idiots. I have nothing kind to say about those goofy people.”

Senior Reporter Trevor Simonton can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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