ASA voices opposition to Prop 107

Student leaders from the Arizona Students’ Association have banded together to resist a measure on Tuesday’s ballot that will put a ban on state affirmative action programs.

ASA, a lobbying group representing students from ASU, NAU and UA, hosted a press conference Wednesday in Tempe’s Memorial Union to voice their opposition to Proposition 107.

The Arizona Civil Rights Initiative, or Proposition 107, is intended to stop racial discrimination in Arizona.

The proposed amendment would put a stop to affirmative action programs within the state.

“Proposition 107 is a constitutional amendment that would end affirmative action policies that give preference based on race [and] sex,” said Jennifer Gratz, director of State Initiatives with the American Civil Rights Coalition.

Gratz is campaigning in support of Proposition 107 and has a history of fighting against racial discrimination. In 1997, she filed a lawsuit against the University of Michigan’s admissions department, arguing that the department had made decisions based on racial preferences.

The University was forced to change its admissions process in 2003 to veer away from racial preferences when it lost the case, she said.

Gratz is continuing her fight against racial preferences as she works on the campaign in support of the proposition.

If the proposition is passed, several of ASU’s retention programs will be eliminated, said political science junior Michael Wong, an ASU director of ASA.

The proposed amendment may eliminate retention programs for traditionally underrepresented groups at ASU, he said.

The Summer Bridge Program and the Multicultural Student Services are two programs at ASU that will be at risk, Wong said. These programs provide mentorship and support to students, which helps keep the retention rate up.

Gratz said that the programs would not be eliminated, but altered so they do not favor minorities. Students should be treated equally based on their merit and character, she said.

ASU could encounter several problems in the future if the proposition is passed and these programs are eliminated, Wong said.

“[The] programs ensure that students who are admitted to the University have the resources they need to successfully graduate,” he said. “These are programs that directly contribute to our graduation rate.”

Reach the reporter at cottens@asu.edu