His persistence can be described as admirable, but last week, Ward Connerly failed once again to convince the majority of his fellow University of California regents that race doesn't matter.
In 1996, again in 1998 and for a third time last week, Connerly recommended the Board of Regents-the UC system's decision makers-enact a policy that would cut funding for campus activities targeted to students of a specific race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. His stated purpose for the proposal was that such activities isolate students from the rest of the university.
Connerly has become well known for his push to end race-based preferences in education. He drove Prop. 209-the initiative to end affirmative action at public universities-to its victory in 1996 and is currently pushing his "Racial Privacy Initiative," slated for the March 2004 ballot. The initiative would end race and ethnicity "check boxes" on public employment and UC admissions applications.
Overwhelming opposition last week to Connerly's de-funding push, evident both by protests in and outside the regents meeting, as well as a barrage of anti-Connerly editorials coming from UC student newspapers, prompted Connerly to pull the agenda item at the last minute.
Two of Connerly's peers, however, moved to vote on the item regardless, "to send a clear message they are against the proposal," student Regent Matt Murray told CityBeat. Connerly's policy, he said, "swung a broad hammer at a slew of very important university efforts to promote inclusiveness and accessibility for students, staff, faculty and parents from all varieties of background."
Voting in favor of Connerly's proposal was, of course, Connerly himself, tech-industry magnate David Lee and San Diego Padres owner John Moores. Moores was appointed to the board in 1999 by Gov. Gray Davis and this year was named board chairman. Regents serve 10-year terms.A spokesperson for Moores did not return CityBeat's request for comment.
Murray said that prior to the vote, the regents discussed Connerly's proposal, but Moores failed to participate in the discussion.
Murray can only speculate on Moores' motivation. "I believe that he voted for the proposal because he believes, like Regent Connerly, that race-, ethnicity- and sexual orientation-targeted events promote divisiveness and segregation and move us away from, rather than toward, a truly equal colorblind society," he said. "I respectfully disagree."