Proposed bill would require racial quotas for college student publications

TEXAS — Rep. Ron Wilson reintroduced a bill last August that would require state university student publications staffs and editorial boards to reflect the racial make-up of the state, regardless of the racial make-up of their school.The bill, first proposed in early 1995, was subsequently removed from the state assembly schedule later that year without ever being voted on.Wilson, (D-Houston) said the bill was a call for student publication staffs to “reflect the racial and ethnic diversity” of Texas.Rep. Wilson, who is African-American, proposed the original bill after a cartoon ran in Texas A& M’s paper that Wilson and others regarded as racist.Similar problems have occurred at other schools in Texas, according to Wilson, and he says diversifying campus newspaper staffs to better represent the reading audience is part of the solution.However, opponents of the bill say that it would not require newspaper staffs to reflect their campuses, but would require them to match the racial breakdowns for the state as a whole. Thus a campus newspaper at a predominantly black or Hispanic school might have to add a disproportionate number of non-minority students to their staff.Apparently the more recently introduced bill may suffer a similar fate as the first time it was presented for consideration, however.Last November, the bill was referred again to the House Committee on Higher Education.According to committee staff, a public hearing on the bill scheduled for two days in February never occurred because Rep. Wilson failed to show up for the hearings.No further hearing dates have been scheduled.