Editor’s note: This letter from NAS member Stuart Hurlbert comes at an important moment for Arizona citizens. On voting day in less than a week, they’ll have the historic opportunity to reject racial preferences in state institutions, including public universities. Dr. Hurlbert attaches a bundle of short articles on this ballot initiative (Proposition 107), including NAS’s argument in favor of it. We encourage our Arizona readers to send this letter to friends and colleagues, and to vote YES on Proposition 107.
Your state will be voting soon on Prop. 107. This is an extremely important vote as Prop. 107 would reduce the divisiveness and unfairness of certain practices by local and state agencies, schools and universities.
The attached collection of short articles titled "Some thoughts on the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative, Prop. 107" is intended to provide insight into the issues involved.
According to the press, UA President Robert Shelton claims he is both fighting Prop. 107 tooth and nail and at the same time making sure no UA programs conflict with it. Or so he says, in the face of hard evidence of use of racial preferences in UA (and other Arizona universities).
President Shelton has also misrepresented the consequences of Prop. 209 in California, so you may be interested to hear what actually did happen in California after passage of our Prop. 209.
As a result of the very heavy weight that UC admissions officers were giving to race prior to Prop. 209, there was a temporary decrease in numbers of certain minorities at two of the most competitive UC campuses. For California public universities and colleges collectively there was zero effect on numbers. Instead disparities in academic qualifications and graduation rates between different ethnic/racial groups declined. Divisive racial preference policies were reduced to only those few mandated by the federal government. Affirmative action programs that do not discriminate on the basis of race or sex remain alive and well throughout California, as they surely will in Arizona. All has been good.
Please consider these facts as well as the thoughts in the attached compilation. When considering such critical matters, we all need to remember that "good intentions" cannot justify bad policy. We should not compromise on the civil rights laws passed in the 1960s with so much blood, sweat and tears.
Stuart H. Hurlbert
Emeritus Professor of Biology
San Diego State University
San Diego CA 92182