It’s been a long three years.
And while some predict the lawsuit challenging the
University’s Literature, Science and the Arts admissions
policies will be ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, just
clearing the district court level was a journey in its own
After Jennifer Gratz and Patrick Hamacher initially filed suit
against the University in October 1997, the case has been subject
to numerous delays, motions and appeals.
The Washington, D.C.-based Center for Individual Rights filed
the lawsuit on behalf of two white applicants who claimed they were
unfairly evaluated under the LSA admissions system.
CIR’s clients, Gratz and Hamacher, claimed underqualified
minority applicants were admitted over them because race was a
factor in University admissions.
“Race should never be a factor,” Hamacher said in an
interview with the Daily in October 1997.
Gratz, from Southgate, graduated with a 3.765 grade point
average and had an ACT score of 25.
“I felt like there was a wrongdoing,” Gratz said
that October. “The policies need to be changed so nobody has
to go through what I went through.”
Gratz said she hoped the lawsuit would force the University to
change its ways.
As the University was still reacting to the suit against LSA,
CIR doubled its punch that December, targeting the University with
a second suit. This time, it that the University’s Law School
admissions policies were unlawful.
Barbara Grutter, who applied in 1996, said she too was unfairly
denied admissions to the University’s Law School.
The University took it upon itself to defend its policies, even
if it meant bringing the cases to the U.S. Supreme Court.
With two different suits preparing to move through the federal
court system, it was unclear how long it would take to reach a
The University has been recognized for its efforts to increase
minority enrollment after massive student protests in the late
1960s and 1970s pressuring the University administration to up the
number of minority faculty and students.
But by the mid-1980s, the University administration decided
their efforts did not go far enough. In 1987, then-provost James
Duderstadt, who would become University president, implemented the
Michigan Mandate, a new effort to boost minority enrollment.
Under the mandate’s policies, minority enrollment
University-wide increased from 12.7 percent to 25.4 percent at the
time the lawsuits were filed.