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Student Reaction Mixed to Passing of Prop. 209

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

Three days after being approved by California voters, Proposition 209 remains the focal point of the affirmative action controversy.

The proposition, which bans racial and sex preferences in public hiring, contracting and education, was widely considered one of the most divisive ballot battles across the country.

On Monday night, the Latino student organization Latinas Unidas held a candlelight vigil against the proposition.

"I was kind of expecting that after Prop 187 passed in California that Prop 209 would pass," said Felipe E. Agredano, a second-year Divinity School student, attended the event.

Proposition 187 was a measure approved in California in 1994 that denied government services to illegal immigrants.

"What we were doing [at the rally] is showing our solidarity regardless of what the state of California or the electorate says," Agredano said. "And I think we were successful."

But Joseph C. Anderson '99, said he sees success in the passing of the proposition itself. Anderson, who is president of the Harvard Objectivist Club, said he supports any action which brings power back to the individual.

"I am definitely glad Proposition 209 passed," said Anderson. "There's no such thing as group rights."

Anderson said that, as an Objectivist, he believes "the only purpose of government is the protection of the rights to life, liberty, and property."

Proposition 209, he said, restores protection of business property by giving owners the right to determine who they wish to hire without government interference.

Unlike Anderson, Diallo A. Riddle '97 said he was not thrilled by the passage of proposition 209.

"I wish it had not passed," Riddle said. "It's going to keep a lot of good people out of good places."

Riddle was optimistic, though, saying the bill's passage "might serve as a wake up call. It might serve as a catalyst for some really important changes."

Riddle, a history concentrator, said that periods of minority advancement are often followed by periods of setbacks, like the Jim Crow laws passed after the Civil War.

"We're entering a period of back-sliding. But I think you'll find that black institutions will grow stronger," Riddle said.

Edward M. Ceballos '97 addressed the issue on a more personal basis.

"I'm Hispanic, and I would not have dreamed of applying to Harvard had they not contacted me first," Ceballos said. "A lot of Universities and institutions need to actively recruit minorities."

Ceballos made a distinction between programs that give minorities opportunities and those that fill quotas, a distinction he said he is afraid Proposition 209 does not make.

The final say on Proposition 209 will probably be decided not by voters, but in the courts.

Both sides filed lawsuits Wednesday over the measure: proponents to get it into effect, opponents to get rid of it as unconstitutional, according to the Associated Press (AP).

"No matter what happens, this is only the beginning of what we believe will be a nationwide battle," Kathy Spillar, a leader of Stop Prop 209, told the AP

The final say on Proposition 209 will probably be decided not by voters, but in the courts.

Both sides filed lawsuits Wednesday over the measure: proponents to get it into effect, opponents to get rid of it as unconstitutional, according to the Associated Press (AP).

"No matter what happens, this is only the beginning of what we believe will be a nationwide battle," Kathy Spillar, a leader of Stop Prop 209, told the AP

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