UCal regents in clash with president Struggle is over date to end affirmative action


SAN FRANCISCO -- A tumultuous fight over the University of California's ban on affirmative action, which led to student protests and a widespread faculty revolt, now has a bitterly divided board of regents struggling with the president over the policy.

In the past week, the regents reaffirmed a July decision to stop selecting students, hiring faculty members and awarding contracts on the basis of race and sex.

But 10 members of the 26-member board, all opponents of affirmative action, have called a special closed meeting for Wednesday to "review the performance" of the president, Richard C. Atkinson.

Mr. Atkinson announced two weeks ago that he would delay the new admissions policy until 1998, saying there was not enough time to revise the guidelines and print new materials before next year.

Mr. Atkinson was promptly ordered to meet privately with Gov. Pete Wilson, who has vowed to abolish affirmative action in California and made the issue a cornerstone of his short-lived campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

Proponents of the policy say that the president is dragging his feet to thwart the ban.

The struggle over the university policy is occurring as the deadline nears to place on the November ballot a measure banning hiring based on race or sex by all public agencies and their contractors in California. But with only three weeks until the deadline, the measure is still at least 400,000 signatures short of qualifying for the ballot.

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