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Coleman: 'U' still dedicated to diversity

BY GABE NELSON

Published November 9, 2006

In the wake of Proposal 2's passage, University President Mary Sue Coleman promised students and faculty that the University will remain dedicated to diversity even if it can no longer use affirmative action.

Sarah Royce
President Coleman speaks with a woman after the speech. She mingled with the crowd for about 10 minutes before leaving the Diag. (TREVOR CAMPBELL/Daily)

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"If November 7th was the day that Proposal 2 passed, then November 8th is the day we pledge to remain unified in our fight for diversity," said Coleman, standing on the steps of the Hatcher Graduate Library.

The University needs diversity to remain a first-rate institution, Coleman said.

"I am standing here today to tell you that I will not allow our university to go down the path of mediocrity," she said. "That is not Michigan."

Coleman tried to reassure a crowd campus police estimated at about 2,000 people.

She said students will continue to receive their financial aid, scholarships and grants, and promised faculty and staff that none of their jobs are in danger.

By the time the affirmative action ban takes effect, which could be late December, University officials need to determine how the constitutional amendment applies to programs that promote diversity.

Coleman promised that the University will retain all of those programs, even if it must change them to comply with Proposal 2.

"We will continue to review all of our programs dedicated to minority affairs and campus diversity to ensure that they comply with the law as we have done for many years," Coleman said.

Coleman said the University will ask the courts to allow the University to use its current admissions process for the duration of this admissions cycle. It would be unfair to judge applicants based on two different sets of criteria, she said.

Because MCRI's language is vague, the University is not entirely sure how it will adapt to the proposal, Coleman said in an interview with The Michigan Daily after the speech.

The University's legal team is currently considering multiple possibilities, she said.

In her speech, Coleman pledged that the University would continue to fight for diversity within the framework of the law.

"We believe so strongly in affirmative action that we went before the United States Supreme Court to defend its role, and we prevailed," Coleman said. "Today, I pledge that the University of Michigan will continue this fight."

It seemed to be an emotional moment for Coleman, who hugged University Regent Olivia Maynard before the speech.


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