House Takes Bipartisan Stand to Protect Equal Opportunity

Media 03.30.06

Washington -A two-pronged attempt by opponents of affirmative action to scuttle equal opportunity in university admissions and undercut the privacy of college students was roundly defeated today with broad bipartisan support, 337-83.

“Our elected officials stood up for equal opportunity today,” said Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s premier civil and human rights coalition. “Opponents should focus on fixing the glaring disparities that still exist in elementary and secondary schools across the nation rather than trying to undermine the attempts of colleges and universities to ensure a diverse and educated American public.

An amendment to the higher education bill, H.R. 609, offered by Rep. Steven King, R. Iowa, would have forced federally-funded colleges and universities to produce lengthy, complicated reports each year documenting sensitive racial and ethnic data on all their applicants.

“If passed, this amendment would have placed an unreasonable burden on colleges and violated the privacy of their students,” said LCCR’s Policy Director Nancy Zirkin. “This is just the latest in a series of unprincipled attacks that attempt to subvert the meaning of equal opportunity in American life.”

The King amendment is one of many efforts by anti-opportunity activists to undercut equal opportunity:

  • Last fall, the Bush administration suspended many existing Affirmative Action Program (AAF) requirements for new federal contractors involved in rebuilding areas ravaged by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, effectively denying equal opportunity employment measures designed to aid minority-owned businesses.

  • In January, the Department of Labor quietly proposed eliminating the Equal Opportunity Survey, a vital data collection tool that is designed to detect and remedy discrimination against women and people of color.

  • In addition, anti-affirmative action activists have teamed up with like-minded Bush Department of Education officials to pressure colleges and universities into making “minority aid” programs, intended to improve educational opportunities for women and minorities, available to the entire student body.

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The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights is the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition. For more information on LCCR and its work, visit