By Isaac McMahan

We were disappointed that Californians did not vote in favor of Proposition 16 on Tuesday. We had hoped for a different outcome because Proposition 16 would have repealed Proposition 209, which banned the consideration of race and ethnicity in the higher education admissions process.

Veterans Education Success works to advance higher education success for veterans, servicemembers, and military families. We take pride in promoting access to higher education and advocating for positive change in higher education that better allows for the students we serve to thrive.

The veteran and military community is significantly more diverse than that of the general population, and approximately forty-five percent of America’s enlisted Armed Forces identify as a person of color. The consideration of race and ethnicity in higher education admissions is essential in ensuring that veterans of color and their families have greater access to high-quality public education opportunities and a successful transition to civilian economic life.

California’s Proposition 16 would have protected student veterans by ensuring their access to California’s well-known, high-quality colleges and universities. In fact, research found that Proposition 209 (which Prop. 16 would have repealed) had “deterred thousands of qualified underrepresented students from applying to any University of California Campus.”

Though the result Tuesday is a setback for those advocating for equity in higher education admissions procedures, the attempt to repeal the affirmative action ban was a monumental step in the right direction to support prospective students of color. California’s national influence is not unnoticed, and we hope that these efforts will be replicated successfully in the other states that currently ban the consideration of race and ethnicity in the higher education admissions process.

Isaac McMahan is the Director of Racial Justice at Veterans Education Success.