Amendment sparks outrage

By Sun Weichi and Du Liya Source:Global Times Published: 2014-2-27 17:18:01

A proposed amendment to the California constitution has recently triggered public anger across Asian-American communities.

Opponents say that the amendment is discriminatory as it would dramatically decrease the proportion of Asian-American students in public universities, leaving long-lasting, disastrous impacts on education and employment opportunities for these communities. They are urging action to stop it from being approved in the state assembly.

Supporters, however, argue that affirmative action is needed because of a rapid decline in the representation of minorities on campuses.

In tabling the California Senate Constitution Amendment No. 5 (SCA5), which was passed in the state senate on January 30, Ed Hernandez, a Democratic state senator, said that the number of Latino, African American and Native American students in the University of California had declined dramatically.

The amendment would allow the state to give preferential treatment in public education to individuals or groups based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin. It will also apply to public employment and contracting. If SCA5 is passed in the state assembly, it will be presented to the state voters in the November election.

Bob Huff, Republican leader in the state senate, spoke out against SCA5. Huff warned that it is dangerous to pass the amendment as it would restart a new round of racial discrimination. The Declaration of Independence says "All men are created equal," but SCA5 is contrary to this, Huff added.

Tony Torng, board member of the Walnut Valley Unified School District, said that the impact of SCA5 on the Asian-American community will be severe and it has to be stopped in the state assembly.

He said that he had written to the Chinese-American Elected Officials (CEO), in a bid to persuade other Asian-American elected officials to set aside partisan bias and take actions to protect the core interests of the community.

Paul P Cheng, a Chinese-American lawyer in Southern California, said that SCA5 essentially repeals portions of Proposition 209, the 1996 ballot.

Proposition 209 prohibits state institutions from considering race, ethnicity or sex in public education, employment and contracting. SCA5 would leave loopholes in which students from poor white families have to earn higher scores than those from rich African-American families in order to be admitted by top public universities, Cheng added.

"We as parents have to fight for the defeat of SCA5 as it would result in a college admission criteria that is based on non-merit factors," said Alex Chen, executive board member of the 300-member Huazhong University of Science and Technology Alumni Association of Southern California (HUSTSCAL).

SCA5 would send the wrong message to our future generations that they may not have an equal chance to get into college, not because of their scholarly achievements, but because of the race they belong to, Chen said, adding that the proportion of Asian-American students in the UC system would be lowered down from 36 percent to 13 percent if SCA5 is enacted and other states would follow suit.

Petitions have been launched on the White House website and addressed to the state assembly, gathering signatures nationwide.

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