On Nov. 5, 2019, Referendum 88 appeared on Washington State ballots. It was a required statewide vote on I-1000, an initiative to allow affirmative action policies in Wash.
I-1000 would’ve allowed characteristics such as race, sex, age, sexual orientation, disability and veteran status to be used as factors when considering a person for public education or public employment opportunities; according to Ballotpedia.com.
Affirmative action was supposed to go into effect July 2019, but opponents had collected enough signatures to force a referendum. This attitude remained prominent in this month’s vote as affirmative action was rejected by 50.4% of voters. Major arguments for R88 included: it would divide us, allow government sponsored discrimination, damage progress already made on diversity and R88 lacks accountability. Let People Vote and Grassroots are organizations against I-1000 that led campaigns in support of a reject vote.
These aren’t the only organizations against R88. According to the Washington Asians for Equality, R88 is a form of discrimination. They claim all it did was change the definition of preferential treatment. The idea is that one individual cannot be chosen over another only because of their race. However, Washington Asians for Equality members point out that race can just be used along with another qualifier which would allow continued discrimination. As of today, Wash. is one of the eight states that have rejected affirmative action; and it should continue to reject the idea.
Initiative 1000 would allow the state to remedy documented or proven discrimination against, or underrepresentation of, certain disadvantaged groups. We should always be working to create equal opportunity for all groups, many minorities have been put at a disadvantage because of years of discrimination that we are still trying to remedy to this day. Affirmative action however, sends us in the opposite direction. While affirmative action does not allow an individuals’ characteristics to be used as a sole factor in public education or employment, as the Washington Asians for Equality argued, it would be easy to group that with another quality and allow for discrimination under a different banner. This will not create equal opportunity, but divide in our community. When considering an individual for public education or employment, their qualifications should be the number one priority.
Affirmative action threatens equality throughout our nation and Wash. made the right choice to reject it.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost