Proposition 16 Spurs Disagreement Among Student Body

Proposition 16 Spurs Disagreement Among Student Body

Krutik Patel, Staff Writer 

Students at University High School have varying perspectives on Proposition 16, one of 13 referendums to appear on the statewide ballot, which would strike down the prohibition of discrimination in public universities and other public employment established by a previous proposition. 

Proposition 16 is a proposition to add a California Constitutional amendment that would repeal Proposition 209, which states that discrimination based off a person’s/group’s race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin is prohibited in public education, employment, and contracting.

If Proposition 16 passes the California legislature, it will be implemented roughly two months after California’s election day. 

This ballot measure has caused substantial disagreement among the student body, with the debate largely centered around the fact that passing Proposition 16 would allow public institutions – such as those in California’s vast network of public universities-to develop and use affirmative action programs.

These affirmative action programs cause factors such as race and sex to affect the chances of a person seeking enrollment in public education or public employment. In doing so, certain candidates are more favored because of uncontrollable factors as opposed to pure merit and work ethic.

Some high school students, like senior Susanna Mathew, are in support of Proposition 16.

“The basis of achievement and all your supposed ‘qualifications’ are based on opportunity which is inarguably dealt unequally,” Mathew said. “Without taking that into consideration, marginalized communities will stay marginalized and everyone else becomes the villain.” 

Others agree with Matthew’s views on the basis that Proposition 16 may equalize educational opportunities for all students.

“The point of Prop 16 was to make up for systemic racism, like [people of lower socioeconomic status] live in areas that are impoverished so they can’t get the same SAT prep to get the scores us rich kids can,” said a student who wished to remain anonymous.

Though many students are in favor of Proposition 16, students such as senior Arne Noori oppose its passage.

“As someone who’s in a minority group myself, it would help me in college apps and employment,” Noori said. “However, I think that stereotyping someone based on their race, sex, or ethnicity rather than their actual skill makes me strongly against Prop 16.”

Senior Patrick Zhang agrees with Noori and believes that Proposition 16 decreases the emphasis that public education and employment places on someone’s skills.

“I don’t really support it as it makes college not as merit based,” Zhang said.

Despite numerous students taking a firm stance on Proposition 16, others like senior Christopher Lai, remain neutral. 

“I can see both sides. One side is like an equal opportunity for all,” Lai said. “But the other is giving priority to the disadvantaged or minorities.”

This viewpoint is shared by other students on campus.

“I think I see both sides of the argument, saying yes could open the door to discrimination, but it could also allow more equal opportunities,” said an additional student who wished to remain anonymous.