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Civil Rights Initiative protest moves through MU campus

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 | 8:44 p.m. CDT; updated 2:14 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008
From left, Shanel Carter, Lanee Bridewell, and Khadiga Tejan, in the foreground, and LaChelle Livingston and Michelle Careym, in the background, march with protesters against the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative at MU's Speakers Circle on Tuesday afternoon. The march began at the Plaza moving to Brady, Speakers Circle, and ending outside Jesse Hall. Protesters chanted, listened to speakers and passed out information about MoCRI.

COLUMBIA — More than 100 people gathered on the MU campus Tuesday for a five-hour protest opposing an initiative that could end affirmative action in the state.

Starting outside an MU dining hall and ending at Jesse Hall, the protesters, organized by Missing Minority Campaign, marched to oppose the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative.

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The initiative is a proposed constitutional amendment that will appear on the November 2008 ballot if enough signatures are collected by the state’s May 4 deadline. According to the Missouri Civil Right Initiative Web site, the amendment would prohibit state and local governments from “granting preferential treatment to any individual or group based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education and public contracting.”

If passed, it would mean race or gender could not be used as a factor in college admissions or financial aid.

Clad with signs that said “MOCRI=Fraud” and “We deserve a chance,” protestors marched to spread awareness about the benefits of affirmative action and declare their opposition to the initiative.

Tim Asher, who proposed the initiative, said the proposed ballot item would create equal opportunity, equal protection and equal access under the law.

“We believe that government preferences some citizens over others,” Asher said. “If they don’t use preferences, there would be no effect.”

Many, including UM System President Gary Forsee, believe that this amendment, if passed, would have an effect on education and hiring.

“The University of Missouri opposes the amendment that would limit diversity on campuses,” said Jennifer Hollingshead, assistant director of university communications for the UM System. “Limiting diversity on campuses would have an adverse effect on the learning environment.”

Some protestors at Tuesday’s event said they felt the proposed initiative would have a negative effect on education and hiring and are using the march as an opportunity to voice their opinion.

Kris Dyer, a 21-year-old MU student who came upon the protest as it was happening, liked what he heard.

“I think a proposal like this should not be passed,” Dyer said. “Affirmative action is a step in the right direction”

As the group moved through the campus and spoke to many people who were against the initiative, they also spoke to some who were in favor of it. One supporter was Kevin Cordia, a student at MU who happened to be at Speakers Circle the same time as the protest.

“I have never been for affirmative action. I believe that people should attain any merit in society based on their own accomplishments rather then their religion, sex or race,” Cordia said. “I don’t think people should be discriminated because of their race, but I also don’t think that they should get a job just because of their race.”


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Comments

Caleb Bartlett April 16, 2008 | 1:12 p.m.

Any institution that receives money from public taxes should never base acceptance on race. No one should be more special than anyone else based on race. Isn't that equality? Is that not what civil rights was all about? Skin color or race should never factor into qualifications. Equal rights does not mean special rights.

Reguarding race, all institutions that recieve any public funds should be blind.

(Report Comment)
Clay Mering April 17, 2008 | 12:55 a.m.

It is easy for white Americans today to think that they don’t get special treatment based on their race, because African-Americans are no longer enslaved and laws no longer directly discriminate against them. But slavery and discriminatory laws from the not-too-distant past – practiced by public institutions – have left a legacy of inequality that still strongly privileges whites over blacks. Affirmative action helps to reduce that inequality, and as such is still deeply needed.

(Report Comment)
Caleb Bartlett April 21, 2008 | 12:49 p.m.

Hi Clay,
I agree with the whole legacy argument. The results can still be seen today; however I do not believe that the practice of discrimination based on race is the answer. There are millions of individuals of different races that have been discriminated against or enslaved at one point or another. I have Native American and Irish blood. Certainly both of these groups suffered from discrimination and even genocide. My wife recently found she has Jewish ancestry. Any policy or practice that discriminates by race whether it be to the advantage or the disadvantage of any group is as wrong now as it was in 1964 or 1864 or at any other time in history. When it comes to equal rights, there is no fixing the scales. We either have the same rights or we don't. Discrimination is discrimination is discrimination. Equal is equal is equal.

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