A state lawmaker said Monday he will aim to ban the practice of considering race for hiring or admissions.
Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, plans to introduce legislation that would lead to a constitutional amendment banning affirmative action in Wisconsin.
�As time goes on, it becomes more and more apparent that the forces of affirmative action are trying to expand the role of preferences in Wisconsin,� Grothman said. �It is time to go back the other way.�
Grothman cited one state agency he is involved with that requires law firms to list the number of �so-called minorities� they employ before considering doing business with them.
�I think [affirmative action] is incredibly divisive and will eventually destroy this country,� Grothman said. �We cannot keep telling people to view themselves as members of an ethnic group; they have to be Americans first.�
The issue of affirmative action was debated at length in the Legislature last session in a special committee.
Rep. Tamara Grigsby, D-Milwaukee, worked with Grothman then and said the two could not disagree more on the issue.
�I�ve tried to make it very clear that I�m vehemently against a constitutional amendment or any other proposal that would limit affirmative action,� Grigsby said.
Grigsby added she does not think such a proposal would make much progress in the Democratic state Senate.
�I have no confidence whatsoever that his proposal will see the light of day this session,� Grigsby said.
Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, was also on the committee and said trying to kill affirmative action isn�t in the state�s best interest.
�Legislators love to talk about equal opportunity, inclusiveness and diversity as goals for our state,� Taylor said. �It takes programs like affirmative action to reach those goals, though.�
The University of Wisconsin System, receiving much of its funding from the state, would potentially feel the effects of an affirmative action ban on its admissions policy, which currently considers race as a factor.
�It�s not primarily about the UW; it�s mostly about hiring practices,� Grothman said.
�It�s been well-documented we have an admissions policy that considers a whole host of things, the first of which is academic performance and academic potential,� Giroux said. �Within that, there is a provision that requires that we consider students as whole individuals, not just test scores.�
Giroux said race does play a small part in the assessment of an applicant�s potential to contribute to UW�s diversity, but other factors � like urban versus rural upbringing and geographic diversity � are considered as well.
�We want to have diverse student bodies, and diverse in every sense of the term,� Giroux said.
Though Grothman has attempted to ban affirmative action before and has failed, his proposal is similar to one that became law in Michigan last year, though students and faculty at the University of Michigan voiced their strong opposition.