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Students throughout the University of California system have led virulent protests against Proposition 209, a California referendum that banned affirmative action in all state agencies. The law, which received 54 percent of the vote in last Tuesday's election, prohibits public colleges from using preferences in admissions, financial aid awards, hiring and contracting. At the University of California at Berkeley, students fought the law's implementation throughout last week -- and more protests may erupt this week on the politically active campus. Among the demands -- mostly made by minority students -- was a call for the resignation of the chairperson of the UC system's Board of Regents. Ironically, the chairperson has denounced Proposition 209. Citing that example, Tilbury called some of the demands "quite ridiculous." On Wednesday night, the protesters occupied Berkeley's bell tower -- the Campanile -- where about a half-dozen students spent the night chained to the wrought iron at the top of the tower. Nearly 100 more students spent the night at the bottom of the tower before campus police dispersed the crowd Thursday morning, making 23 arrests. "We try to balance the necessity for free speech and the protection of property and individuals," said Terry Colvin, the California system's spokesperson. In a separate incident, protesters at Berkeley stole 22,000 copies of the campus's free student newspaper last Tuesday. The issue contained an editorial supporting Proposition 209. Although California's nine chancellors have vocally opposed Proposition 209, Colvin said the schools have begun complying with the requirements. The schools were already in the process of eliminating racial preferences in admissions and financial aid, in accordance with a regulation passed by California's Board of Regents in July 1995. But because Proposition 209 takes effect immediately, school officials will not be able to implement several other admissions guidelines that would support minorities indirectly. There are currently two appeals in the California courts attempting to stop Proposition 209. Tilbury, who said he would not be surprised to see further protests this week, noted that Proposition 209 will have the greatest impact on Berkeley and the University of California at Los Angeles, which currently accept the greatest number of minorities. "Studies have been done projecting that the student body at these campuses will become 60 percent white, 40 percent Asian, with a few other minorities," said Tilbury, who voted against 209 but has not vocally protested its passage. Although protesters at Berkeley have not emerged in large numbers, they have been both visible and vocal on campus. Tilbury said though the demonstrators are "really tense" about the passage of 209, many students have remained lethargic. Similarly, most students at the Los Angeles campus were relatively quiet following last Tuesday's elections, but a protest did erupt Monday. Although Monday's outbreak was the first post-election protest at the Los Angeles campus, UCLA junior Rosy Le noted that several protests occurred before the elections. "I'm sorry that it passed," Le said. "I believe in affirmative action, and I believe that we have a long way to go here in America." Le added that she recently heard on a radio show that 95 percent of corporate executives are white males -- a statistic she said explains why affirmative action is necessary. In other incidents reacting to the passage of 209, students at the Santa Cruz and Riverside campuses occupied main administrative buildings. At the Riverside campus Monday, students took over a campus building -- and were still there as of Tuesday night. And more than 100 Santa Cruz students blocked entry to the school's student center last week. Administrators successfully negotiated with the protesters to leave the building without making any arrests.

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