Hispanic Students in Higher Education Post Proposition 209: Comparative Case Study Across Three States

In 1996, the backlash against affirmative action in California resulted in the passage of Proposition 209 effectively banning race-based college admissions. Prior to Proposition 209, some Hispanic students gained admittance to selective universities, and were able to create a more inclusive society. The Hispanic population is projected to become the majority in California within the next few decades (California Department of Finance, 2017). Being that there is no correlation between a student’s intellectual ability and their ethnic background, higher Hispanic enrollment rates should be commensurate with an increasing Hispanic population. Through a comparative case study of Hispanic enrollment in higher education in three states, this study illuminates intriguing patterns well worth considering in the development of public policy designed and patterns of discourse to manifest more inclusive higher education. The core research question of this thesis is: How do patterns of discourse surrounding Hispanic enrollment in the California State University system compare to those of state-supported universities in Texas and Rhode Island both prior to, and after, the implementation of Proposition 209 in California? Does a comparative case study of these states suggest that Proposition 209 differentially affected this unfolding history of education policy in California as compared to Texas and Rhode Island?