At Thursday’s meeting of the University’s Board of Regents, University President Mary Sue Coleman opened with a lengthy speech addressing campus diversity, climate and inclusion. As she spoke, members of the Black Student Union sat in the front row with duct tape over their mouths that read “Go Blue!”

In the address, Coleman cited the University’s role in the two 2003 Supreme Court cases addressing affirmative action as one of the proudest moments during her presidency. In Grutter v. Bollinger, the court upheld the University’s consideration of race in admissions as part of a holistic review of each candidate.

“At the time, many people asked why the University was taking on such a divisive issue in such a public way,” Coleman said. “My answer was always the same: It was the right thing to do. It was a long, difficult struggle, it was hard on many levels, and it was the right thing to do.”

Coleman said the University’s struggle to make progress in increasing diversity is troubling. She ascribed part of the challenge to the passage of Proposal 2, a 2006 ballot initiative that banned the use of affirmative action in public institutions of higher education, among other areas.

In fall 2006, shortly before Proposal 2 was passed, Black students constituted about seven percent of the undergraduate population. By the fall of 2013, Black undergraduate enrollment had fallen to 4.65 percent. Hispanic and Native American students also experienced a decline in terms of percentage of the overall undergraduate population during the same period.

Students from the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action and some high-school age students from Northwestern High School in Detroit spoke and protested during the public comments section of the meeting.

“We want to call on students on campus to join the movement and to recognize that we have that power because we have no confidence in the administration,” said Kate Stenvig, University alum and national BAMN organizer.

About 20 BAMN supporters, with signs in hand, filled the room with chants of “Open it up or we’ll shut it down.”

The BSU members present neither participated in the chants nor spoke during the public comments section. LSA senior Tyler Collier, BSU president, said the BSU has a different agenda than the BAMN movement.

“We have a good relationship, but we do want to differentiate the agendas,” Collier said. “We want to achieve the 10 percent demand; we don’t think affirmative action is necessary.”

Coleman also recognized that minority students face difficulties on campus, alluding to several incidents of racial bias, though not pointing to any specific events. In the fall, the University’s chapter of the Theta Xi fraternity was sanctioned by the University for planning a party that many viewed as racialized. The event’s description made use of gang references, and students who were invited said it parodied Black culture and referred to women in offensive ways.

Beginning in November, members of the BSU reinvigorated discussion of campus climate through the #BBUM campaign, a Twitter movement that allowed Black students to share their experiences on campus.

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, BSU members protested outside Hill Auditorium, announcing their #7demands initiative, which called on University administrators to respond promptly to several key issues facing progress toward diversity on campus.

In a meeting with BSU leaders on Jan. 24, the University proposed to grant the Trotter Multicultural Center $300,000 for renovations while continuing to look for a space closer to Central Campus for a future building.

After the regents meeting, Collier said BSU representatives will again meet with administrators Friday. He added that he has been pleased with the dialogue with University officials thus far.

Before the public comments section, Regent Shauna Ryder Diggs (D) lauded the BSU students for their work on bring important issues to light.

“I wanted to thank the leadership of the Black Student Union for their leadership role in trying to improve the experience of all the students on campus,” she said. “That is really the way I view this.”

Later in the meeting, the regents voted to approve the appointment of a new administrative position, associate vice president for enrollment management.

The position was first alluded to by University Provost Martha Pollack in a Jan. 16 e-mail sent to the University community.

In an interview with the Daily on Monday, E.Royster Harper, vice president for student life, said one of the biggest issues is not difficulty finding qualified students, but persuading those students to choose the University.

“They’ve been admitted to other schools that they perceive as more prestigious — Yale, Harvard, Princeton — or the financial aid package, or the merit package that we provide is less competitive than some of the other schools,” Harper said.

The next day, in another interview with Daily, Coleman said the new position would strengthen the connection between the Office of Financial Aid and the Office of Admissions.

“What we would like to do is find a closer alliance between admissions and financial aid,” Coleman said. “One of the things that we think is very very important is that those positions work closely together because one of the things that may have an impact on students accepting us is how quickly they find out about financial aid or how we package the financial aid. So this enrollment manager will have the ability to look at both of those two essential parts of this student attraction process as well as focus on the recruitment of underrepresented minority students.”

Coleman said the position will be filled after a nationwide search, and added that the committee is “on track” to fill the spot by this fall.

In her address, Coleman said the University’s commitment to diversity will not waver as the campus strives to confront challenges of inclusion and access.

“We have work to do, all of us, together. We need to recognize the societal factors that affect our public institution; we need to work within the law and with respect to a wide variety of opinion and belief,” Coleman said. “But Michigan has long been a place where these hard conversations have led to new ideas and new energy.”

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