The Leadership Conference is working diligently to see that Tom Perez is confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Labor. Perez is an eminently qualified public servant and consensus builder who has dedicated his career to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and have the opportunity to succeed. He has served with integrity and distinction at the local, state and national level, compiling an outstanding record of achievement.
Washington State May Modify Anti-Affirmative Action Law
Feature Story by Ritu Kelotra - 1/29/2004A bill introduced in the state of Washington could allow public universities once again to consider race in admissions. The legislation, which is getting bipartisan support, takes into account the June 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld the constitutionality of race-based admissions policies.
"Our higher education institutions are at a distinct disadvantage because they can't consider the whole applicant during the admissions process as other states can," said state Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, the bill's sponsor. "Let's allow our schools a holistic approach to looking at applicants."
Senator Don Carlson, R-Vancouver, chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee, is supporting Kohl-Welles' proposal.
The introduction of Senate Bill 6268, and its counterpart House Bill 2700, comes five years after Washington voters passed Initiative 200, which prohibited state affirmative action programs in employment, education, and contracting. After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2003 that race could be considered in admissions, Washington Governor Gary Locke encouraged the introduction of state legislation to reflect that decision.
"A key component of education is diversity -- diversity of backgrounds, diversity of views, and diversity of cultures and ethnicities," Governor Locke said. "I think the ethnicity of applicants should be taken into account when considering individual student applications, consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court decision.'"
The bills' supporters stress that the proposed legislation does not allow institutions of higher education to implement quota systems.
"[This legislation] is not about overthrowing I-200. It's not about the institution of quotas, set asides or preferential treatment," said Kelly Evans, a public affairs consultant in Seattle who was campaign manager for the NO!200 campaign. "It would simply give our colleges another tool to achieve diversity by giving consideration to the whole student and what they bring to our campuses."
The Senate Higher Education Committee passed the bill after a hearing on January 23, where twenty-four individuals, including several officials from the University of Washington and Washington State University, testified in favor of the legislation. All witnesses cited the importance of achieving diversity in education.
Currently the bill awaits a vote from the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Higher Education Committee.