Referendum 88 and the Fight Against Affirmative Action

David Acevedo

Editor's Note: This article was originally published under the name "John David," the former pseudonym of NAS Communications & Research Associate David Acevedo. To learn more about why David no longer writes under this name, click here.

CounterCurrent: Week of 11/3

The war over affirmative action during the last several years has been a complex saga, to say the least. On the one hand, in July 2018, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice announced their plan to repeal seven regulatory documents put in place by the Obama administration. These documents effectively gave colleges and universities free reign to prioritize racial preferences over individual merit in their admissions and hiring practices. 

On the other hand, Massachusetts' District Court recently ruled in favor of Harvard University and their ongoing discrimination against Asian-American students in admissions, a major win for higher education’s progressives. These are but two of countless skirmishes that have kept the war in our country raging since the 1960s. The constant back-and-forth makes it difficult to discern who, if anyone, is “winning”, especially given the influence of radically different presidential administrations.

And now, enter Referendum 88. With this vote taking place next Tuesday, November 5th, Washington State re-enters the affirmative action fray after a brief summer hiatus. The law in question is Initiative 1000, a state statute passed in April, 2019 that permits Washington organizations and institutions to use “characteristics such as race, sex, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, sexual orientation, disability, or veteran factors when considering a person for public education or public employment opportunities.” If this sounds like discrimination to you, you’d be right. 

In this week’s featured article, NAS President Peter Wood breaks down the issue, including the byzantine text of I-1000 itself, and explains why those opposed to racial bias should vote an emphatic “NO” today. But don’t check out if you’re not a Washingtonian; if this statute remains in place, it will set a dangerous precedent for other states to follow suit.

CounterCurrent is the National Association of Scholars’  weekly newsletter, written by Communications & Research Associate David Acevedo. To subscribe, update your email preferences here.

Image: Robert Ashworth, Public Domain

  • Share

Most Commented

May 7, 2024


Creating Students, Not Activists

The mobs desecrating the American flag, smashing windows, chanting genocidal slogans—this always was the end game of the advocates of the right to protest, action civics, student activ......

March 9, 2024


A Portrait of Claireve Grandjouan

Claireve Grandjouan, when I knew her, was Head of the Classics Department at Hunter College, and that year gave a three-hour Friday evening class in Egyptian archaeology....

April 20, 2024


The Academic's Roadmap

By all means, pursue your noble dream of improving the condition of humanity through your research and teaching. Could I do it all again, I would, but I would do things very differently....

Most Read

May 15, 2015


Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

October 12, 2010


Ask a Scholar: What is the True Definition of Latino?

What does it mean to be Latino? Are only Latin American people Latino, or does the term apply to anyone whose language derived from Latin?...

September 21, 2010


Ask a Scholar: What Does YHWH Elohim Mean?

A reader asks, "If Elohim refers to multiple 'gods,' then Yhwh Elohim really means Lord of Gods...the one of many, right?" A Hebrew expert answers....