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September 02, 2003 - Image 36

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-09-02

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4C - The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - Fall 2003


Sum of decisions greater than its parts

By Maria Sprow
Daily Staff Reporter

fornia vs
nia atD,

It's official: Universities may use race In its
as a factor in admissions - they just held six
may have to hire more admissions offi- four to
cials to do it. affirmat
That is the consensus of the two majori- discrimi
ty opinions handed down by the U.S. declarin
Supreme Court in the cases Grutter v. Powell
Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger. In the concurr
opinions, written by Justice Sandra Day quota s}
O'Connor and Chief Justice William declared
Rehnquist, respectively, the Supreme interest -
Court upheld the Law School's admissions In the
system but struck down the system used the Bak
by the College of Literature, Science and over the
the Arts, saying that it looked too much mative a
like a quota. battles.I
"This is a huge win for higher educa- appealsl
tion and for Michigan," said Douglas scious ac
Laycock, a law professor at the Universi- versity
ty of Texas. "The law school case is a Georgia
green light, and I think any school that But le
cares can comply with that opinion and try said t
consider race ... It's simply a matter of room fo
putting enough people in the admissions Supreme
office to read the whole file." the opin
"Either you can have an affirmative "I thi
action plan that works, or you can't. That's split de
what the fight was about," he added. "Sup- ringing
porters of affirmative action won,
and the opponents lost."P. , n.
Experts added that the opinion
against the point system used by -
the LSA would only affect a small
percentage of higher education
institutions - large, competitive
schools which, like the University,
receive tens of thousands of appli-
cations per year.
The decision in the Law
School case will be far more
reaching, they said, since many
smaller schools take race into
account in admissions.
"I think it is a small price to pay
for preserving openness to univer-
sities for disadvantaged minori-
ties," Georgetown University law
Prof. David Cole said.
The constitutionality of consid-
ering race in admissions has been
under deep scrutiny since the
Supreme Court's 1978 decision in
Regents of the University of Cali- :x '
Skindeep diversity

s. Bakke, which challenged a quota
used by the University of Califor-
avis medical school.
final ruling in Bakke, the court
different opinions and was split
four, with four justices upholding
ive action in order to remedy past
nation and the other four justices
g it unconstitutional. Justice Lewis
was the deciding factor, and his
ring opinion - which declared
ystems unconstitutional but also
ddiversity to be a compelling state
- was mixed.
last 25 years, lawsuits challenging
kke decision have popped up all
country, and opponents of affir-
action have successfully won their
The 5th and 11 th circuit courts of
have previously declared race-con-
dmissions policies used at the Uni-
of Texas and the University of
egal experts from around the coun-
the opinions issued would leave no
r second guessing, adding that the
e Court opinion will now overturn
ions made by lower courts.
ink that despite the fact that it's a
cision for the University, it is a
victory for affirmative action,

because the court holds - for the first
time - that diversity is a compelling state
interest," Cole said. "In Bakke, there was
no decision for the court. There was a sin-
gle decision by Justice Powell, but no
other justice joined his opinion, so the
standing of that decision was a matter of
serious dispute."
Still, although the court ruled in favor of
allowing race to be used as a preference in
admissions, legal experts say that the jus-
tices have actually shown a decline in the
number of reasons why they accept affir-
mative action.
In Bakke, four justices favored the use
of race based on a number of different rea-
sons, including remedying past discrimi-
nations, reducing the historical deficit of
disfavored minorities in the medical pro-
fession, increasing the number of educated
minorities to practice medicine within
their own communities and achieving
diversity. Powell rejected three of those
But in the Grutter decision, the five jus-
tices who concurred to form the majority
opinion agreed that the importance of
diversity is the only reason universities
should take race into account while mak-
ing admissions decisions.


Agnes Aleobua chants in front of the Michigan Union with members of The
Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action & Integration and BAMN.
Students divided
over CourtM rlns

By James Koivunen
and Samantha Woli
Daily Staff Reporters


As the decision
in the Supreme
Court regard-
ing affirmative action
approaches, I feel com-
pelled - as an African-
American, a writer and
a University student -
to think about diversity.
To defend its admissions program, the
administration has cited diversity as the main
reason for such plans. Arguably, there are
other notable reasons for affirmative action,
but, seeing that these other reasons all hint at
social and economic engineering, the Uni-
versity has chosen the more palatable con-
cept of diversity. In my opinion, the diversity
achieved from aggressive affirmative action
is, as of now, purely numerical. True diversi-
ty is conditional, and I will attempt to
explain the conditions.
This spring, University liberals and
minorities decided to affirm their presence in
several ways: from an anti-war gathering on
the Diag to Queer Visibility Week to certain,
unmentionable boycotts. Though these
events are a token to the University's diversi-
ty, I contend that this diversity is only skin
deep. Let me explain further.
I recently visited Vassar College, a
small, secular, liberal arts college in
upstate New York where I saw the differ-
ences between that self-proclaimed liberal
institution and the University. Incidentally
when I visited, as a Christian, I wore a
fairly recognizable, gold cross on my neck.

Upon viewing said cross, my friend
promptly suggested that I take it off. When
I asked why, she told me that I would get
inquiries all night from various Vassar stu-
dents as to why I am a Christian. This is
not, as it may seem, liberal discrimination
or secular segregation, but it is representa-
tive of the intellectual inquiry across polit-
ical and social beliefs that is most central
to liberal culture. When the Lesbian Gay
Bisexual Transgender Association held a
kiss-in this spring, their bravado was met
not with this inquiry, but with tacit
demands to "keep it to themselves."
The concept of welcomed diversity con-
nects these two incidents, seemingly about
two separate issues: sexual orientation and
religious orientation. My first contention is
that diversity is more than just race. This is
obvious, but many do not live out this truth
. in their daily lives. If your friends are only
those of the same religious persuasion, sexu-
al persuasion or political persuasion, then
you are missing out on the fruits of diversity:
the diversity that spans beyond and goes
beneath the skin.
What makes this University great is that
it represents the true U.S. intermediary. It is a
defiant representation of the traditional col-
legiate experience because it lies outside the
bounds of characterization. The University
knows no label - and this is coming from a
continually skeptical out-of-stater. It lies in
the Midwest, somewhere between the whole-
some South and the cynical Northeast. It
draws neo-hippies and fraternity brothers. It
admits Jews, Christians and Muslims. And it

attracts, of course, every major U.S. race.
All this diversity is in vain if there is
no interaction. And so, my second con-
tention is that differences should cultivate
inquisitiveness and rumination. The dif-
ference between my experience at Vassar
and the incidents of this spring is that, at
that self-proclaimed liberal institution,
diversity evolved into education. Here,
diversity has devolved into the mere
acknowledgement of difference. The stu-
dents at Vassar did not point and laugh at
my cross and they did not tell me to "keep
it to myself;" instead, they asked me about
it and sought understanding.
All sides, unfortunately, are indictable.
Black or white, Christian or Jewish, gay or
straight, poor or rich, we all feel more com-
fortable around those who are similar to us.
Yet, bridging differences instead of simply
acknowledging them will cure this Universi-
ty of the curse of small-mindedness and will
necessitate an aggressive affirmative action
program. Only with this individual action
will diversity cease to be purely numerical.
Diversity goes beyond race. It spans
across creeds, lifestyles and economic back-
grounds. Yet, it even goes beyond that which
is physical. The essence of diversity lies in
the mind. At the University, we have all the
physical signs of diversity - and hopefully
we always will - but if we dare to claim
that diversity is the main reason for affirma-
tive action, then it is time to open our minds.

The much awaited U.S.
Supreme Court decision marked
both the end and the beginning of
many student marches, petitions,
rallies and debates surrounding
the controversial issue of affirma-
tive action in the University's
admissions policies.
The split decision reflects the
array of student beliefs across
campus with strong support for
both sides of this issue - and
many still undecided and con-
fused about the Supreme Court's
The key component of the
court's split decision was the fact
that in both the College of Liter-
ature, Science and the Arts and
Law School cases, race was con-
sidered to be a legitimate factor
in their admissions policies.
Many University students,
regardless of their stance on the
University's current admissions
system support the idea that
racial diversity is a compelling
state interest.
Mathematics doctoral candidate
Jared Maruskin agreed that diver-
sity is important and does have an
effect on students, even on those
who are unaware of it.
"I've had friends who have said
that diversity doesn't really affect
me, that people still stay in their
groups," Maruskin said. "But it's
very important even if we just see
people from all sorts of cultures
and backgrounds represented
here," he continued.
"It does have an effect, even
though some people might not be
conscious of that effect,"
Maruskin said.
Engineering senior Kavon
Stewart also agreed with the
court's ruling on the importance
of diversity.
"I'm happy they decided to
consider race as an issue in the
law schools, because when you
think about it, there aren't really
that many African Americans or
minorities in general in the law
LSA junior Danny Huerta
cited existing social imperfec-
tions as rationale enough for
affirmative action.
"At a school like this you want
to have diversity, and it happens
that in today's world underrepre-
sent.ed minorities don't have
their chance necessarily because

they can't pay for SAT classes or
they don't go to such great
schools," he said.
Kelly Jones, a first-year gradu-
ate student in the School of Edu-
cation, agreed that certain races
are specifically disadvantaged
and said that "because of the
inequity that there is for certain
groups of people, there has to be
some way to make up for that."
However, Jones and fellow stu-
dents, while understanding the
need for current race-conscious
policies, have concerns about
instituting a permanent affirma-
tive action policy.
"I believe it needs to start at
the grade school and high
school levels and that we
shouldn't have to do this at col-
lege, but right now we need to,"
she added.
While many agree that racial
diversity is an important concern
for the University, economic
diversity is also an important con-
cern that many feel is overlooked.
"I think that seeking diversity
should be a factor in admis-
sions, and racial diversity is cer-
tainly a kind of diversity. I'd
also like to see economic diver-
sity," said Rackham student
Sarah Nuss-Warren.
LSA junior Sam Botsford said
that although he supports affirma-
tive action in theory, certain
changes need to be made.
"I think that the idea of affir-
mative action is a great idea, I
just think that it's skewed ... A
better idea for affirmative action
is for it to be based on socio-eco-
nomic class regardless of race,"
he continued.
Botsford added that the points
awarded for legacy which favor
applicants whose parents attended
the University - should also be
eliminated "because it's like white
affirmative action."
"Two generations ago, black
people weren't going to college
in any kind of numbers at all. The
only people benefiting from
(legacy points) are white people.
And so that's basically white
affirmative action," he said.
But regardless of students'
varying opinions on affirmative
action, diversity remains impor-
tant to many.
Maruskin, agreeing that diver-
sity is a primary concern of the
University, said, "I'm always
fond of saying that God loves a
variety, I guess the University of
Michigan does too."





Jean can be reached at

W.dmmr .771"

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