Eyeing the April 1 date when University admissions policies go before the U.S. Supreme Court, Students Supporting Affirmative Action held their first organizational meeting last night, uniting members for a Washington rally to support the University’s use of race-based admissions. The group also enlisted students for committees to coordinate educational activities and press releases.
Undergraduate and Rackham students, members of the University National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Rackham’s Students of Color, Students Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality and the Michigan Student Assembly filled the Michigan Union’s Anderson room last night to mobilize support for this group defined as a “collective of student leaders.”
“What makes SSAA different (from other affirmative action groups) is that it makes students of all different diversity issues come together to support a cause, and not just the organization they’re a part of,” said NAACP Juvenile Justice Chair Teri Russiello, citing that many students agree with affirmative action in part but not in full. “Advocacy and education are very important, in addition to taking a very firm, solid stance on affirmative action policies – as opposed to swaying back and forth on the issue.”
While SSAA leaders presented a multifarious agenda to students, the Washington rally was the main focus of the meeting. “(The rally is) going to be a huge part,” said Pete Woiwode, MSA communications committee chair. “Obviously, the more people we show the Supreme Court are invested in this, the bigger the impact it’s going to have.”
SSAA leaders said the committees must work hard to raise funds for buses to the rally, which might cost $35,000.
Between now and the April oral arguments, committees plan to hold a deluge of events in conjunction with student groups across the country. On March 30, SSAA plans to hold a Jam for Justice concert supporting affirmative action with performances by hip-hop luminaries, and hopes to sell out Crisler Arena.
SSAA leaders also requested that members participate in a National Student of Color Day of Silence on March 31, when minority students will wear gags symbolizing the consequences of race-blind admissions policies. Although students will remain silent while on campus, they will attend classes and “conduct their business as usual,” an SSAA flyer said.
To conclude the day of silence, SSAA will merge students on the Diag for its Rally for Educational Justice. Hours later, students will board buses for Washington in order to arrive in front of the Supreme Court the next morning.