10 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, April 13, 2001
With all eyes turned to Michigan, Cass
Technical High School students
Tomicka Glenn, Amber Martin, Ebony
Buck and Shellie Bonds are working to
mobilize their classmates in the fight for
race-conscious admissions policies.
For them and other under-represented
minorities, the future depends on .
ETROIT - The lawsuits chal-
lenging the University's admis-
sions policies have captured
nationwide attention as they
may ultimately decide the future of
affirmative action in higher education.
But perhaps no one is watching closer
than the students of Cass Technical
For these students, the debate over
affirmative action is not an intellectual
exercise. While law professors battle
over the exact meaning of terms like
"critical mass," students such as Cass
seniors Shellie Bonds, Ebony Buck and
Tomicka Glenn and freshman Amber
Martin fight to be a voice for those who
will be the most affected by the out-
come of the lawsuits - under-repre-
sented minority students applying to
"o me, affirmative
action is recognizing
that things aren't fair,
recognizing that until
things are fair, race
needs to be taken into
account to level out the
- Shellie Bonds
Cass Tech senior
Behind the legal jargon, statistical
models and theories about diversity lies
a very real truth for minority high
school students applying to the Univer-
sity of Michigan: If the University is
forced to abandon a race-conscious
admissions policy, many of them might
not be accepted.
In its August 1999 opinion allowing
the student intervenors into the cases,
the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote
that "there is little room for doubt that
access to the University for African-
American and Latino/a students will be
impaired to some extent and that a sub-
stantial decline in the enrollment of
these students may well result if the
University is precluded from consider-
ing race as a factor in admissions."
The student intervenors argue that
affirmative action programs are neces-
sary to address societal discrimination,
past and present. The students at Cass
also want to show that the effects of this
discrimination have given their white
counterparts certain advantages.
"To me, affirmative action is recog-
nizing that things aren't fair, recogniz-
ing that until things are fair, race needs
to be taken into account to level out the
playing field," said Bonds.
THEIR PLAYING FIELD
mier high schools, Cass Tech has a stu-
dent body of about 2,500, 91.3 percent
of which are black. To attend, students
must pass an entrance exam and stu-
dents who are talented in the arts can
audition for admission.
Students at Cass Tech have the oppor-
tunity to take a specialized course of
study, and the school offers Advanced
Placement courses in English, govern-
Means Necessary come to Cass Tech to
talk about the lawsuits.
"People from BAMN came to Mr.
Conn's class" and exicouraged us to
attend the rallies," renmimbered Glenn.
"At first, I wa$n't too interested," she
said. "But when I weint to the rally. I
"The students at Cass have really
stepped forward and put themselves at
the center of the legal and political fight
to expand and preserve affirmative
action," said Miranda Massie, lead
counsel for the Law School intervenors.
The:student's involvement, she added,
has "given real life and vitality to the
intervention The Detroit high school, U
of M and other students who attended
the trial are fighting for their future and
that is what this case is about in the
vost of the stu-
est in ensuring
o top-tier insti-
argue, addresses the racism inherent in
the allocation of resources to schools.
"These students deserve to have what
the other students from U of M feeder
schools have," Conn said.
KEEPING UP THE FIGHT
While Glenn and Bonds will not be
attending Michigan in the fall, they plan
to remain active. Buck is still waiting
on her application to the
the University and is hopeful
she will be in Ann Arbor
we in September. She said the
lawsuits were a factor in
e that her application.
always told me that if you
believe in anything worth
1, but fighting for, you might as
well fight for, it until the
e to end. I want to see it
through to the bitter end,"
the she said.
Currently, the two cases
have been filed with the
6th Circuit Court of
Ebony Buck Appeals in Cincinnati. A
ss Tech senior briefing schedule has been
issued by the court for the
puters are 1987 Apples that do not
"It's a completely unequal playing,
field - from the conditions of the
building to the lack of equipment and
supplies," Conn said.
Despite these problems, Bonds,
Glenn, and Buck say they are glad they
attend Cass Tech. In fact, they point to
the adversity they have faced there as an
asset for the future.
"I wouldn't say students from Cass
are not as qualified (as white students),"
"I would say that given the differ-
ences and the obstacles that you face
going into a school that's in the city -
the different things we encounter make
us more qualified. If given the chance,
we can prove that we are as qualified,
but you have to give us the chance. "
RALLIED TO ACTION
Many Cass Tech students first heard
about the lawsuits against the Universi-
ty of Michigan through Conn. An ardent
defender of affirmative action, Conn
had representatives from the Coalition
to Defend Affirmative Action and Inte-
gration and Fight for Equality By Any
undergraduate case, and
are expected to be heard;
Until then, the Cass
will be waiting.
as early as this
Long regarded as one of Detroit's pre-