Voters will weigh whether to bring back affirmative action in California

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Twenty-four years later, voters will again consider if public institutions should be able to consider race and gender in areas like hiring and admissions.

For Sacramento City Councilmember Eric Guerra, it’s a yes.

“’Can you measure the Guy West Bridge with only a ruler, and you three here and a pencil?’” Guerra said, recalling where he had one of his most memorable experiences as a Sacramento State student. “That’s how we were able to measure the height of the Guy West Bridge, using proportionality and geometry.”

It was a big leap from where he started — a farm worker with parents who had an elementary school education.

“That was part of the minority engineering program,” he told FOX40. “Proposition 209 eliminated that.”

Voters approved Proposition 209 in 1996.

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Proposition 16 paves the way for bringing back programs like that, allowing race, sex, ethnicity and national origin to be some of the factors taken into consideration when filling positions in public education, public employment and public contracting.

Guerra said it would allow public schools to recruit staff and faculty of the same background as struggling students.

“If we want to create stronger mentors, we need to be able to have that as an option and as a tool — not the only factor — but as a tool,” he said.

Though Proposition 16 would affect all public sectors, it’s the education aspect that evokes the most passion.

“There is systematic racism against Asians,” Jason Xu, vice president of the Silicon Valley Chinese Association and a major contributor to the No on 16 campaign, told FOX40.

Xu said being an academic standout allowed him to immigrate to the United States 30 years ago.

“The general policy of favoring skin color no matter what skin color is being favored, then society becomes a class society,” Xu said.

Asians are 15% of California’s population, but 33.5% of the University of California’s population. Federal law prohibits diversity quotas and Proposition 16 does not propose them. 

Still, Xu said he believes they will be used to the disadvantage of Asian people.

“We’re walking down a very dangerous track in the sense that, how do you say diversity is enough? You have to have a number,” he said.

Monday, Oct. 19 is the last day to register to vote in California. For more information and to register online, click or tap here.

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