Office of the President

June 20, 2019

What we are doing to prepare for I-1000

Ana Mari Cauce

I-1000, which enables state agencies and public universities to factor in characteristics such as race, gender, ethnicity, and veteran status when making admissions, hiring and contracting decisions, was passed by the state legislature this session and is currently scheduled to take effect in late July. To prepare the University of Washington for this change in state law, I have initiated a staff review of our current practices in admissions, hiring, and contracting to lay initial groundwork for implementation.

I am on the record supporting this change in the law, which I believe will help correct a competitive disadvantage faced by Washington’s public universities in our efforts to hire and enroll top talent. This is not about advantaging one group over another – although as the “Varsity Blues” scandal has laid bare, it is clear that wealth, status and other elements of privilege do give some students a clear advantage. And all too many events in these last several years have reminded us that we are still not a country where we judge people simply by the “content of their character.” Hate crimes have risen dramatically in recent years, both locally and around the country, and barriers and biases affect people differently by race, ethnicity, and gender.

I-1000 is not about quotas, which I would never endorse or support. It is about leveling the playing field so that we can better compete in admission and hiring with top public universities and private universities, around the country and right here in our state. Solving the extremely challenging problems we are faced with as a community, nation, and world will require all hands on deck.

I recognize that affirmative action is a highly charged and divisive topic, that at times it has been practiced with too heavy a hand, and that reasonable people can disagree on the role that race, gender and other characteristics should play in all kinds of admission and hiring decisions. As our institution moves forward to ensure that everyone across our campuses complies with the changes in the law, I encourage us all to keep in mind the many values we do hold in common as we talk across our different viewpoints and that we continue to work toward building inclusive, diverse, equitable and welcoming campuses.

Because I-1000 was passed via a citizen initiative to the state legislature, there is a process by which this law could be sent to the voters for approval this fall as a referendum. The prospect of a referendum will become clearer over the coming weeks. If there should be a referendum, while UW employees have the right to engage in political activity on their own personal time, state law prohibits UW employees from using university or state resources to assist in promoting or opposing a ballot proposition or initiative. In the meantime, we’ll proceed with the expectation of initial implementation in key areas by late July.

Working together, we can create an environment where every member of the UW community feels valued and welcome for the contributions they can make, and where our collective talents are able to be fully expressed for the betterment of our students and all those we serve.

Updated 6/24/19