May 18, 2001

Regents should listen to demands of students regarding SP-1, SP-2

ADMISSIONS: Decision by board should give closure to years of fighting for vote

(Editor's Note: Prior to the Regents vote on SP-1 and SP-2, which were rescinded by the UC Board of Regents Wednesday, May 16, 2001, Justin Fong published an insightful piece on the students perspective of the issue on affirmative action in admissions.)


By Justin Fong

As the morning commute comes to an end for many people and the first sip of coffee begins, I will be sitting at the table as the only student representative to the University of California Board of Regents with the one proposal that thousands of present, past and future students have been waiting for: the repeal of SP-1 and SP-2.

SP-1 and SP-2 are the policies passed by the UC Board of Regents in 1995 that banned affirmative action in admissions and hiring at the university and were used to manipulate the passage of Proposition 209.

Since 1995, thousands of students have protested, rallied, hosted educational forums, authored academic papers, sponsored debates, been arrested, written articles, done precinct walking and voter registration and almost every other activity that can be imagined. The topic of affirmative action and admissions at the University of California has inspired a whole generation of young people to learn and to lead.

Since the moment the policies were passed, the requests to rescind SP-1 and SP-2 have begun and have continued ever since. Today the UC Regents are expected to take a vote on SP-1 and SP-2, but the action is not the one students have been requesting for so long.Instead of rescinding SP-1 and SP-2, the regents are seeking to "replace" the politically charged policies.

Over the past six years, I have worked to get to this point and now that I'm here, I only have one request:that before the UC Regents take action to "replace" the policies that have become so problematic for the UC, that they bring closure to years of student demands for a vote to rescind SP-1 and SP-2.

I just ask that my proposal be heard and voted upon, passed or not; it must at least be given its chance.The alternative outcome is that through a process of parliamentary trickery and manipulation, my proposal is tabled for eternity and students never receive closure on the issue. It is much like sitting in class with a question for a professor that a student never has the opportunity to ask or have answered.

And so, I ask my fellow regents this morning, not for their vote, but for their respect and for the opportunity to have my proposal presented and considered without being procedurally banished from a vote. I am not requesting my fellow regents change their vote; I am merely asking them to give us all the opportunity to cast our votes on a proposal on behalf of thousands of students who have been waiting a very long time.

I have been surprised by the widespread support for my proposal by legislators, civil rights groups, students, and faculty members. I believe that even a significant minority of votes in favor of my proposal is a success and would send out a strong message to minority students that we are doing our best to welcome them to the university.

To be honest though, I believe that a majority of votes in favor of rescinding SP-1 and SP-2 would send out an even stronger message of welcome.

As the Board of Regents once again prepares to make history, I ask that all our choices, including those proposed by students and the student regent, be given a chance.

Fong currently serves as the UC student regent. He holds a degree from UC Berkeley (1998) and is pursuing a graduate degree in public policy at UCLA. Daily Bruin Online - Wednesday, May 16, 2001.

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