Affirmative Action and Proposition 209

I have received a number of inquiries about the impact of Proposition 209 upon our affirmative action program. This is a complex matter, and I believe that a response is deserved.

The University will remain in full compliance with all federal and state laws and regulations,1 including Proposition 209. This commitment involves two primary concepts. First, as before 209, the University will not engage in or tolerate illegal discrimination. Second, as a federal contractor, the University will follow applicable federal regulations. In fiscal year 1995/96, for example, CSU, Chico handled over $21,000,000 in federal grants and contracts. Failure to comply with federal affirmative action regulations could result in loss of eligibility for such grants and contracts.

Thus, in compliance with federal regulations, the University will conduct inclusive searches in an attempt to develop representative pools of applicants that reflect their availability in the labor market under consideration. Also, in compliance with federal regulations, we must continue to update our Affirmative Action Plan annually to determine whether or not we are in compliance with federal regulations and if corrective action is required.

On the one hand, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed illegal discrimination, which has been defined by the courts and is well understood. On the other hand, "preferential treatment," the language of Proposition 209, has not yet been interpreted by the courts and therefore, includes some ambiguity. A period of uncertainty regarding interpretation and implementation of 209 is anticipated by many. We intend to remain in compliance with 209, while at the same time meeting our obligations under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the relevant Executive Orders which follow from it and any other federal regulations.

Beyond what is legal, we must continue to be faithful to the primary mission of The California State University: to provide access to higher education for all academically qualified students. We must continue to provide social and economic opportunity to students from different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds and must prepare all our students to understand, communicate with, relate to, and function in an increasingly diverse society. All demographic indicators suggest that our student population will be increasingly culturally heterogeneous. We must all work together to ensure that our faculty and staff are also representative of the rich cultural and ethnic diversity that characterizes California.

Manuel A. Esteban

1Examples of the laws and regulations referred to are Federal Executive Orders 11246 and 11375 as amended; Equal Pay Act of 1963; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967; Title VI and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; Section 402 of the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Act of 1974; Age Discrimination Act of 1975; Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986; Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; Civil Rights Act of 1991; and Title V of the California Code of Regulations.


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