15 Years ago this week (Dec. 14, 2000)

U.S. District Judge Patrick Duggan ruled that the University’s policy of using race as a contributing factor in undergraduate admissions was constitutional.

The lawsuit upheld the use of affirmative action, but made the grid system of admissions — in which an applicant’s grades and test scores were plotted on a graph and are assigned a number denoted whether they should be admitted or not — unconstitutional. That’s because a minority student with the same grid scores as a white student could make the cut due solely to race.

The grid system had already been replaced in 1998 in favor of a point selection index. The selection index system awarded applicants points based on a variety of criteria, including race. When a student earned more points, their chances of admissions increased.

The case was brought before the court by the Center for Individual Rights on behalf of Jennifer Gratz, a white in-state undergraduate applicant who was denied admission to the University.

“In regards to the plaintiffs, it’s a total victory. In regards to the case, it’s a partial victory,” Curt Levy, CIR director of legal and public affairs, said after the ruling.

Then-University Provost Nancy Cantor called the ruling “an unequivocal victory for (the University).”  

The case, Gratz v. Bollinger, was eventually appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a controversial 6-3 ruling in 2003, the court decided that the point selection index system’s automatic awarding of 20 extra points to underrepresented minority applicants was unconstitutional. In a separate case, the court ruled the University Law School’s narrow use of race as one of many factors in selecting a class of students.

But by 2006, Michigan residents voted to ban the use of affirmative action in admissions. 

74 years ago this week (Dec. 6, 1941)

History Prof. Howard H. Ehrmann was interviewed by Michigan Daily reporter Bob Preiskel about the United States’ appeasement of Japan — or signing off on concessions to an enemy power to avoid conflict.  Ehrmann said the American policy of appeasement would lead to “further demands by Japan,” and would be seen as the “abandonment of China, the Dutch East Indies, British possessions in the Far East, and even the Philippines.”

Ehrmann noted that appeasement was possible when demands were small, but also noted the United States should intervene in the Pacific wars “sometime before the invasion of the Dutch East Indies or Singapore.”

The next day, the United States foreign policy in the Pacific would change. On Dec. 7, 1941, the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was attacked, and the United States began its four-year involvement in World War II.   

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