Affirmative action supporters said they hoped to show U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor a preview of the march on Washington planned for April 1 by rallying Friday at Ohio State University, while the judge spoke at OSU’s Moritz College of Law.
But O’Connor may not have seen the rally while addressing the impact of law on society, said LSA junior Kate Stenvig, organizer for the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action and Integration and Fight for Racial Equality By Any Means Necessary.
Many legal experts believe O’Connor will be the deciding vote in two lawsuits challenging the University’s use of race as an admissions factor in its Law School and College of Literature, Science and the Arts. The court will hear oral arguments for both cases April 1.
Stenvig said about 200 to 250 people marched through OSU’s campus and auditorium “to show Sandra Day O’Connor that there is a national civil rights movement, and that people across the country are demanding of her to be accountable to us and rule in favor of affirmative action.”
The rally is part of a larger display of public support for the University of Michigan’s admissions policies, BAMN member Ben Lynch said. BAMN is planning a national march on Washington when the court hears the cases, and Lynch called the OSU rally a “precursor” to the march.
Stenvig said most of the rally participants from the University and OSU said they would march on the nation’s capital.
Lynch said he hopes O’Connor sees the rally and interprets it as a sign of the general public’s sentiment about the cases.
“I think we really do speak for a majority,” he said.
Yet both Lynch and Stenvig said they do not know whether O’Connor saw or heard their rally.
“I didn’t see her. I’m not sure if she saw us,” Stenvig said.
The rally was organized together with OSU’s chapter of BAMN, the Coalition for Equal Opportunity in Education, OSU’s Undergraduate Student Government and the college’s NAACP chapter, said CEOE Finance Director La’Stacia Hightower.
CEOE took part in organizing the rally “to show our support for the University of Michigan” and to educate OSU students on the cases and the effects of a possible court ruling overturning the University’s admissions policies.
“The message we hoped to send is how important affirmative action is and how it affects all students,” said Hightower, a CEOE event organizer for the national march. “We just used (O’Connor) as a tool in order to get more students involved.”
While many OSU students are aware of the lawsuits against the University, most do not realize that OSU’s own admissions policies and minority programs may come under fire if the court rules against the University, Hightower said.
Lynch said turnout for the rally was very positive, and Hightower called it a “tremendous success.”