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A letter to a High schooler

Hi, xxx,

Thank you for reaching out to me.  I am glad that you are studying Prop 16 as a high school student.  There are opposite opinions regarding Prop 16.  I am giving you input as objectively as I can. Let me try to explain my understanding of what Prop 16 does first, followed by answers to your questions. 

Prop 16 repeals Prop 209 which is called Californian Civil Rights Initiative and was approved by voters in 1996.  Prop 209 amended the California Constitution to prevent the State governments from discriminating against or giving preferential treatment to anyone or group on race, sex, color, ethnicity and country of origin in public employment, public education and public contracting. Prop 209 was modeled on the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

1.     How will "No on Prop 16 Campaign" affect high schoolers, especially high school seniors when applying to colleges in California? 

Answer:  "No on Prop 16 Campaign" will keep Prop 209 effective.  The admission of high school applicants to California public colleges will stay same as before assuming keeping the same admission process.

2.     What should high schoolers know about Prop 16?

Answer:  "No on Prop 16 Campaign" matters to high school graduates because it keeps Prop 209 (California Civil Rights Initiative) which gives everyone equal opportunity in college admission. If we allow prop 16 to repeal prop 209, college applicants will lose equal opportunities.  Firstly equal opportunity is part of American Creed which defines the identity of America, and we definitely want to defend it; Secondly, without Prop 209, college admission officers can use race and other factors to give preferential treatment to some groups, which certainly harms all groups in the long run: the criteria for college admission will be lower for some races and higher for others. We should not treat people differently just according their skin colors. Who is more equal than whom?

The Prop 209 states, “The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.” "No Prop 16 Campaign" defends Prop 209, the California Civil Rights Initiative. We should not allow Prop 16 to pass in this election, otherwise, all Californians will have to give their races a second thought.

3.     What are ways that high schoolers get involved and volunteer with No on Prop 16? 

Answer:  There are many ways to get involved and volunteer with No on Prop 16.

1)     Talk to your brothers and sisters, parents, other relatives and friends about the harm that Prop 16 will bring, and ask them to vote No on Prop 16.

2)     Place No Prop 16 signage at appropriate places

3)     Be a speaker at one of #NoProp16 Car Rallies.

4)     Ask your brothers and sisters, parents, other relatives and friends to participate No Prop 16 Car Rallies.  The next one will be in Milpitas.

5)     Like and Share

6)     Help design and distribute No Prop 16 flyers:

7)     Go to and check out the social media links on

8)     Donate to Californians for Equal Rights, No on 16

4.     What are the negatives of allowing affirmative action in California? 

Answer:  Wo wo wo, this is misleading!  Affirmative action existed, still exists, and will exist with or without Prop 16. 

Prop 209 doesn't ban affirmative action, it only bans government preferential treatments based on race, gender and country of origin.

And Prop 16 is not affirmative action at all! All it does is to legalize racial discrimination.

For example, social-economy status is currently considered as one of the many factors in California public college admission.  We should definitely help those INDIVIDUALS who are struggling to achieve. The problem with Prop 16 is that it will allow admission officers to give soft “quota” and lower bars to certain people based on the race, sex, ethnicity or national origin for college admission.  It does a lot of harm as listed partially in the following.

1)     Prop 16 removes equal opportunity, which is against the Constitution.

2)     Prop 16 jeopardizes admission standards (lower standards for certain groups of people in order to get them admitted), which is not fair.

3)     Prop 16 allows unqualified admission, which will affect the quality of California higher education.

4)     The admitted unqualified students will not perform well, since they are not prepared for what they are going to receive.

5)     Some of the high school talents will seek alternatives such as going out of the state if they cannot get to UC when they meet the admission standards, thus resulting in brain drain.

6)     Accumulating preferential admission will devalue California higher education.

There are better ways to help less fortunate individuals – California should invest more in primary and secondary education (K-12) so that more high school graduates will be able to meet high admission standards.  Prop 16 is the wrong way to go; it is going backward and does a lot of harm to our students and our education system.


 YC Zhang