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University of California votes to bring back affirmative action in admissions

The state outlawed affirmative action in 1996

Students walk on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles. (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

The University of California Board of Regents voted Monday in favor of restoring affirmative action to the admissions process. Granting preferential treatment to applicants based on their race or gender in public education or employment has been outlawed in California since 1996.

The board voted unanimously in favor of affirmative action. The vote on its own doesn't revive affirmative action policies, but rather is an endorsement by the 10-campus university system of a potential repeal of Proposition 209, the law that banned consideration of race and gender in admissions.

"There is amazing momentum for righting the wrongs caused by centuries of systemic racism in our country," Board of Regents Chairman John Perez said in a statement, according to CNN. "The UC Board of Regents' votes to endorse ACA 5 and to repeal Proposition 209 plays a part in that effort. As we continue to explore all the University's opportunities for action, I am proud UC endorsed giving California voters the chance to erase a stain, support opportunity and equality, and repeal Proposition 209."

ACA 5 is the amendment that would repeal the ban on affirmative action. It passed the state Assembly 60-14 last Wednesday. The bill has to pass the state Senate with a two-thirds majority by June 25 in order to be on the Nov. 3 ballot, where it would need a simple majority to pass.

University of California President Janet Napolitano applauded the vote, saying the ban on affirmative action has prevented schools from achieving their desired levels of diversity.

"It makes little sense to exclude any consideration of race in admissions when the aim of the University's holistic process is to fully understand and evaluate each applicant through multiple dimensions," Napolitano said in a statement. "Proposition 209 has forced California public institutions to try to address racial inequality without factoring in race, even where allowed by federal law. The diversity of our university and higher education institutions across California, should — and must — represent the rich diversity of our state."

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