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April 13, 2000 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-04-13

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, April 13, 2000


Students pack courtroom for hearing

Continued from Page 1A
"If they came here to see the hearing, let them
hear the hearing," he said.
Since last August, when the Sixth Circuit Court of
Appeals in Cincinnati allowed a group of interven-
ing defendants - about 60 college and high school
students interested in defending current University
admissions practices - into the two lawsuits that
could determine the future of affirmative action in
higher education, students have changed the face of
the cases.
"I'm happy to see students taking an interest in a
court case," Friedman said after the conclusion of
yesterday's hearing.
Once the intervening defendants took seats in the
jury box, more students - primarily high school stu-
dents from Mackenzie High School in Detroit and
pro-affirmative action activists - took their place in
the visitors' gallery.
"It was great to have the students in the court-
room," said University Deputy General Counsel Liz
Barry, adding that the student presence emphasized
what these cases "are all about."
The high school students in court were unified
under a group named COMPACT, an organization
sponsored in part by Detroit Public Schools and the
University aiming to give Detroit students exposure
to issues affecting their lives.
Almost 30 students from Mackenzie were allowed
into the court room, while the remaining members of

the group waited outside and demonstrated on the
steps'of the federal building.
"It only demonstrates that they care enough to get
out here and show support," said John Elliot, presi-
dent of the Detroit Federation of Teachers.
Some in the visitor's gallery dozed off listening to
three cases before Grutter v Bollinger was called at
2:50 p.m. The students in the courtroom paid close
attention as the proceedings got under way.
After the conclusion of what she said was a some-
times "tedious" hearing, Shanta Driver, national
coordinator for the National Union for Equality and
Affirmative Action, apologized to the students.
"I do apologize. It's like watching a foreign
movie in subtitles," said Driver, who then added
that the students' presence in the case is impor-
"Our presence in the court is absolutely critical,"
Driver said, noting that the voice of the students in
the cases makes the relevance of the case even more
"Our presence ... gave the courtroom a living res-
onance," she said. "With all of us sitting there ... we
really have a chance of winning this case."
And as the intervening defendants, their lawyers
and other pro-affirmative action activists gathered on
the steps of the federal building after the hearing,
talk of the potential impact of the students abounded.
Miranda Massie, attorney for the intervening
defendants, said the student presence in yesterday's
courtroom could sway Friedman to move the venue
of the Law School case permanently from his home

"It only demonstrates
that they care enough to
get out here and show
support. "
- John Elliot
Detroit Federation of Teachers president
base in Detroit to the Ann Arbor Federal Courthouse
- only blocks away from the University campus.
The student presence 'today convinced him of
that," Massie said.
Although Barry said she would not speculate on
the possibility of moving the Law School case to
Ann Arbor when it begins in January, she said that in
her experience, judges always try to provide the best
access for all parties affected by the proceedings.
"Judge Friedman's efforts to allow students into
the courtroom were right in line with everything in
my experience," Barry sail, adding that having all
future proceedings in Am Arbor would provide
greater access for all studerts.
After the conclusion oF the hearing, Friedman
said he was "happy" to sar the student turnout for
the -hearing and hoped it would continue in the
"You are always welcome in my courtroom," he

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University President Lee Bollinger and Pro
calling for a reversal in the drop of minorit
Fleming Administration Building.
Continued from Page 1A
accepted the 8,652 signatures.
"We just want you to know that we
always have been and will continue to
be committed to preserving diversity in
education," Bollinger told the crowd.
"That includes diversity of all kinds -
geographic, religious, lifestyle and oth-
ers. We will not change our admissions
policies and practices in response to
these lawsuits."
As Bollinger retreated into his sec-
ond-floor office, he said, "We knew
they would be coming. We were
expecting them."
While some protesters were satisfied
with his remarks, Shanta Driver, coor-
dinator of the National Union for
Equality and Affirmative Action, said
she was not as pleased.
"Unlike Bollinger, we don't value
all forms of diversity," she shouted
through a bullhorn. "When we look
at people on campus, we don't think,
'How many are talented at the bas-
soon?' or 'Who can row a boat?"'
Miranda Massie, attorney for the
intervening defendants, tried to inspire
spirit among the demonstrators.
"When the so-called (Center for
Individual Rights) filed this lawsuit
in fall of 1997, trying to make this
campus for rich white people only,
they didn't know they were picking a
fight they were going to lose,"
Massie said.
Chanting continued as protesters
moved from Fleming to the Ann Arbor
Federal Building, marching in circles
outside the door of the building as
police and security officers watched
from within.
And even though only the Univer-
sity is directly named in the lawsuits,

)vost Nancy Cantor receive the petition
y enrollment yesterday outside the
the broader implications on higher
education were evident by the pres-
ence of more than just University
students. ,
A bus with signs protesting the law-
suits pressed up against.the windows
unloaded a group of minority students
from Mackenzie High School in
Detroit. After participating in the
protests earlier in front of Fleming,
high school students flooded into t e
courthouse to observe a real-life les-
son in civil rights.
"I want them to basically hear what
the argument is," said the students'
supervisor, Tonya Champion. "I want
them to witness the struggle."
Students from Michigan State Uni-
versity put their rivalries aside to
march alongside University students,
saying Michigan State will be affected
by the outcome of the lawsuits. 0
"If affirmative action leaves U of M,
then Michigan State is next," Michigan
State student Beverly Purches said.
Purches traveled with other members
of Michigan State's Multi-racial Unity
Living Experience organization to
protest the lawsuits.
"I don't understand how people can
say a university is diverse when 80
percent of the university is whitg
Purches said.
But as CIR's lawyers plowed
through the demonstrators, protesters
followed into the building soon after,
hoping they would be permitted to
watch the hearing.
Only three were allowed in when
the hearing began at 2 p.m., but by
2:30 p.m. Friedman found enough
room in his courtroom to accommo-
date all the protesters.
By 4 p.m. all but one of the proted
ers were inside the courtroom to watch
the beginning of the case unfold.




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