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Connerly: Well, that will depend on the extent to which preferences have been dished out. I don’t know the answer to that. There may be a dramatic drop, or there may not be much of a drop at all. I don’t know.

Ward: Would a dramatic drop trouble you?

Connerly: It would trouble me in the sense we’re now aware of the extent to which we’ve been artificially claiming diversity.

Ward: Why do you say “artificially” claiming diversity?

Connerly: Well, because we’ve been thinking that these were the true numbers when in fact they were not. I don’t know the answer to that right now.

Ward: They’re true numbers insofar as they represent the actual racial diversity on campuses, right? They accurately reflect the demographic makeup of those campuses.

Connerly: Well, they may represent the actual diversity, but they may not represent the actual results of how these people will perform in society. When I go into a doctor’s office, and I see that degree on the wall of wherever that doctor attended college, I don’t want to doubt in any way whether that person has the capability that the certificate on the wall represents. None of us want that. We want to know that we’re in good hands and that that person is as accomplished as the certificate implies.

Ward: Do you doubt that now when you walk into the office of a doctor who’s part of a racial minority?

Connerly: No, I don’t. Not on the basis of race.

Ward: Then why do you bring it up?

Connerly: I bring it up because that will be the conversation. People are going to talk about whether institutions have been admitting people and graduating people who are not ready for primetime. The whole issue of race will have to be confronted once again, as we did back in the 1960s, when JFK said, “Race has no place in American life or law.” At that time, it was a big deal if one Black person was admitted to the University of Alabama or the University of Mississippi — just one! Now there has to be a critical mass. That level of race consciousness is raising questions about merit.

Ward: Who’s raising those questions about merit?

Connerly: In 1996, when Prop 209 was being debated and was ultimately resolved by the people, there were those who raised questions about merit. Many of them were white. Most of them were probably white.

Ward: Do you include yourself in the group that was raising those questions?

Connerly: I did not until Prop 209 had been passed, and about two years later, the number of underrepresented minorities went down. The question in my mind was, “Did they go down because UC was discriminating and [increasing] the number of underrepresented minorities who were being admitted based on the consideration of race?” Do you understand?

Ward: I see.

Connerly: If schools are discriminating now, and the numbers go down, obviously we want to do something about that. If we think that 6 percent of this group or of that group is being admitted, and we find out that we were discriminating in order to get that 6 percent, does it not obviously raise the question of what were we doing to artificially create the 6 percent?

Ward: One could ask that, yes.

Connerly: And not only could one ask it, but many people did ask it.

Ward: But you said you began asking that question after Prop 209 was passed — which invites the question of why were people asking it before Prop 209 was passed and its effects on college admissions were clear.

Connerly: Some were opposed to affirmative action to begin with, and that was just one of many reasons that they were using.

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