University of Michigan Prepares Its Defense: Study, to Be Used in Anti-Affirmative Action Lawsuits, Demonstrates the Advantages of Diversity for Both Black and White Students

Article excerpt

University of Michigan Prepares Its Defense: Study, to be used in anti-affirmative action lawsuits, demonstrates the advantages of diversity for both Black and White students

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- In a preview of The University of Michigan's defense strategy in two lawsuits over its pro-affirmative action admissions policies, campus officials have released a new study that concludes that both White and Black students benefit from attending a college that is socially and academically diverse.

The study was compiled with input from a team of leading scholars who were charged with quantifying the positive effects of diversity. These scholars will also be called upon as expert witnesses to testify in the two trials. They include: Dr. William G. Bowen and Derek C. Bok, the former presidents of Princeton and Harvard universities; Dr. Claude Steele, chairman of Stanford University's psychology department; and Dr. Eric Foner, a professor of history at Columbia University.

The study's lead researcher Dr. Patricia Gurin, a University of Michigan psychology professor, found that a racially and ethnically diverse student body helps students become better learners and critical thinkers and prepares them to live in a multiracial environment.

"Education that takes place in a racially diverse setting is qualitatively different -- as it turns out, better -- from education that is undertaken in the absence of that diversity. In fact, patterns of racial segregation and separation historically rooted in our national life can be broken by diversity experiences in higher education," Gurin writes.

Professor Gurin based her results on a study of 1,400 Michigan students beginning in 1990. The study also includes data from a national study by researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles that studied 9,400 students from 184 colleges between 1985 and 1994. …