When the University of California Board of Regents meets on affirmative action this month, Gov. Pete Wilson will vote to end race- and gender-based preferences and will urge other regents to join him, his office announced Thursday.
As governor, Wilson serves as president of the regents, but he rarely attends meetings. The last meeting he attended was in January, 1992, when he and 19 other regents voted to raise undergraduate fees 24%.
But as university regents consider whether to end the use of race and gender as criteria in UC's hiring, contracting and admissions, Wilson--who has made affirmative action a central target of his fledgling presidential campaign--issued a statement pledging that at the July 20 meeting he will vote to "end the unfairness."
"As we strive to achieve equality of opportunity under the law, we cannot tolerate a system in our public universities under which only half of the student body is admitted on academic merit alone," Wilson's statement said.
Now, the university's nine campuses select 40% to 60% of their students based solely on academic criteria. The rest are judged on both scholastic and supplemental factors--such as race, area of residence or special skills--to create student bodies that reflect the state's diversity.
"Students who work hard and achieve the best results in the classroom should be rewarded," Wilson added. "They should not be rejected from the campus of their choice because of their race."
Wilson did not indicate whether he would support two proposals offered by Regent Ward Connerly that would abolish race- and gender-based preferences and increase the ratio of students that UC admits solely on the basis of academic achievement to between 50% and 75%. Connerly, who was appointed to the board by Wilson, has led the push to re-examine affirmative action at UC.
Also on Thursday, a spokesman for the Rev. Jesse Jackson said if the regents follow Wilson's lead, Jackson will disrupt the meeting by engaging in civil disobedience.