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Learned & Lawless Leaders of the University of California System

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Laws are, well, laws. Maybe not so much for the University of California system.

Apparently while the State of California believes it can refuse to help the federal government enforce federal laws, the University of California believes it can simply ignore California law. This should be considered scary. If one of the finest university systems in the country can choose to ignore laws passed by the voters of California, what messages does it send to the almost 250,000 students in the University of California system? Perhaps it delivers a single message: the law is not for the powerful. Perhaps it delivers a second message: If one violates the law or threatens the system, the system will violate the law to insure stability.

California's Proposition 209 is explicit. "The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting." The state is explicitly defined to include the University of California.

Every chancellor of every school in the University of California system has a PhD and handfuls of peer reviewed articles to their credit. Janet Napolitano, the president of the UC system, has a law degree from the prestigious University of Virginia law school and was a US Attorney for the District of Arizona. They all can read.

It is well documented that the University of California is facilitating segregated housing throughout the UC system. While cloaked in language that discusses "communities," university websites that feature quotes from students tell the real story: Berkeley: "I enjoy being around peers who look like me." University of California at Santa Barbara: "We are family; I got all my brothers and sisters with me."

Enter this week's outrage. After students took control of administrative offices at UC Santa Cruz, Chancellor George Blumenthal gave in to all of the student demands on the third day. On behalf of the University of California at Santa Cruz, he agreed to: (1) a four-year housing guarantee to all students from underrepresented communities who applied to and live in the Rosa Parks African American Theme House, (2) a commitment to paint the exterior of the Rosa Parks African American Theme House in the "Pan-Afrikan" colors red, gold and green and (3) a requirement for a mandatory freshman orientation on diversity with the curriculum for the diversity class requiring approval by the group representing the protesting students, the African Black Student Alliance.

Of course, some overpaid attorney representing the University of California will argue that "from under represented communities" has nothing to do with race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin as covered under Proposition 209. Probably the painting of the building in "Pan-African" colors has no meaning and is in concert with the architectural theme of the remainder of the campus. And caving to a demand that a student group approve the curriculum for a university program on diversity is just a true fascination.

1963 was a very long time ago. In those plus fifty years, since George Wallace, the governor of Alabama proclaimed "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" we have advanced to liberal PhDs presiding over university campuses facilitating "segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever". But, of course, all Californians have done to prevent segregation in their colleges is pass a law to prevent it.

But of course, we know: laws are just laws in the University of California system.

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