Magazine article Matrix: The Magazine for Leaders in Higher Education

The University of Michigan's Admission Policy: The Debate Continues. (News: Noteworthy People, Programs, Funding, and Technological Advances in the World of Higher Education)

Magazine article Matrix: The Magazine for Leaders in Higher Education

The University of Michigan's Admission Policy: The Debate Continues. (News: Noteworthy People, Programs, Funding, and Technological Advances in the World of Higher Education)

Article excerpt

Opponents of affirmative action and race-conscious forms of college admissions racked up another victory recently when a Detroit federal judge declared that such practices at the University of Michigan's law school were unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge Bernard A. Friedman's decision comes at a time when not only issues of affirmation action but also simple diversity on U.S. college campuses continue to simmer. In addition, Friedman's decision flies in the face of a December 2000 court ruling in another University of Michigan case that upheld affirmative action practices as it pertained to undergraduates.

"It's sad that affirmative action continues to be under attack and dismantled," Jesus Trevino, director of the Intergroup Relations Center at Arizona State University, told MATRIX magazine. Trevino has been following the case, but said his university has avoided similar legal proceedings because ASU does not base admissions partly on race.

"Diversity is crucial on today's college campuses, as is true in the rest of society, in part because it helps to uphold and ensure the principals of free speech," Trevino says.

In his ruling, Friedman said future admissions at the law school must be based on "race-neutral" criteria. "All racial distinctions are inherently suspect and presumptively invalid."

"The effects of general, societal discrimination cannot constitutionally be remedied by race-conscious decision-making," the judge wrote.

According to published reports, affirmative action has been particularly vulnerable since 1995 when the Regents of the University of California--caretakers of the nation's largest university system--ruled against the use of race in admissions. A federal appeals court followed suit and prohibited the practice in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana the next year, and since then, voters in California and Washington have rejected affirmative action in both higher education and state contracting.

Days after Friedman's decision, University of Michigan officials were back in court seeking a temporary reprieve from the ruling to allow the school's admission process, which was more than well underway, to continue until further appeals were heard. …

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