What Is California's Prop 16? San Diego Students Set to Rally Around It

The ballot’s Proposition 16 would mark a return to affirmative action in California after it was banned in 1996 when voters approved Prop 209

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Students across California – including San Diego – plan to rally Friday in support of Prop 16, a measure on the ballot that, depending on its outcome, would have significant ramifications for the state’s colleges and universities.

What Is California's Prop 16?

Prop 16 would mark the return to affirmative action in California after it was banned in 1996, when voters approved Prop 209.

Under current law, the state is prohibited from considering race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

As NBC LA reported in its guide to the 12 propositions on California’s November ballot, the mandate of Prop 209 has long been a target of civil rights activists. Prop 16 was placed on the ballot after a contentious debate among lawmakers this summer.

If passed, Prop 16 would lift the current ban on affirmative action from California’s constitution.

A “yes” vote means the state can reinstate affirmative action; a “no” vote means the current ban would remain.

Supporters of Prop 16 say the measure is a way to expand equal opportunity to all Californians – a way to level the playing field – and increase access to fair wages, good jobs, and quality schools for everyone, no matter your race or gender.

“Prop 16 fights wage discrimination and systemic racism, opening up opportunities for women and people of color,” the California Voter Information Guide states.

Opponents of Prop 16 argue that you can’t give preferential treatment to one group of people without discriminating against another.

“Politicians want to strip our Constitution of its prohibition on discrimination and preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin. They want to play favorites,” the California Voter Information Guide outlining the argument against Prop 16 states. “If there’s anything that should be fundamental in our society it’s that the state should treat all Californians equally.”

Statewide Student Rallies for Prop 16: Oct. 16, 2020

On Oct. 16, students across California planned to kick off rallies in support of Prop 16 as part of a “Statewide Day of Action.” The rallies call for young voters to overturn the ban on affirmative action.

Organized by Vote Yes on Prop 16, a total of 16 grassroots, student-led rallies were planned for Friday, including one at the San Diego County Administration Building at Waterfront Park.

“With record numbers of young voters expected to turnout in this historic 2020 election, students are calling on young voters to dismantle systemic racism and sexism by supporting Prop 16,” a media advisory from Vote Yes on Prop 16 read. “These events aim to energize young people across California to vote yes on Prop 16 and build a better future for themselves and their peers.”

Eleven of the rallies, including the San Diego event, would be held in person, while the other five were organized as virtual events. Participants were asked to wear face masks and observe all social distancing and COVID-19 safety protocols.

For everything you need to know about the Nov. 3 election and voting in San Diego County, visit NBC 7's Decision 2020 section.

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