Michigan voters dealt a firm blow to the University’s affirmative action programs yesterday, voting decisively in favor of Proposal 2, which bans the consideration of race, gender or national origin in college admissions, hiring and contracting.
University President Mary Sue Coleman, a vocal opponent of the proposal, reaffirmed the University’s commitment to diversity late last night in a statement released before the election was called.
“We defended affirmative action all the way to the Supreme Court because diversity is essential to our mission as educators,” Coleman said. “Regardless of what happens with Proposal 2, the University of Michigan will remain fully and completely committed to diversity.”
LSA junior Ryan Fantuzzi, co-chair of the Washtenaw County Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, the group that campaigned for the amendment, said he was overjoyed at the proposal’s passage.
“It is like Christmas,” Fantuzzi said. “The government can’t discriminate against people anymore – and that is a beautiful thing.”
Not all students were quite so jubilant at the news.
LSA junior Rachel Tanner, who campaigned against Proposal 2 with Students Supporting Affirmative Action, resigned herself to defeat last night.
“We did a great job on campus,” Tanner said. “But ultimately the lies and deceptions prevailed.”
While Michigan voters approved Proposal 2 by a (((16-percent margin)))), University students voted decisively against the amendment. In predominantly student precincts around campus, Proposal 2 failed 75 to 21 percent.
The amendment to the state Constitution will go into effect sometime in late December, depending on the day that the Secretary of State certifies the election results.
Unless a judge delays the implementation of the amendment, the University will be forced to change its admissions policies halfway through this year’s admissions cycle.
Marvin Krislov, the University’s general counsel, confirmed last week that the University may request a stay to delay the implementation of the amendment.
In the coming weeks, University administrators will have to review admissions, hiring and outreach programs to ensure that they are in compliance with the new law.
In an interview earlier this month, Maya Kobersy, assistant general counsel, said while reviewing programs, the University would look for ways to maintain a diverse educational environment.
Julia Darlow, a Democrat who was elected to the Board of Regents yesterday, said the University should support an interpretation of the new law that will preserve as many of the University’s programs as possible.