The University’s Central Student Government began its first meeting of the semester by passing a resolution to fund Wednesday’s Police Brutality Speakout.
Sarah Zearfoss, senior assistant dean for admissions at the University’s Law School, also attended the Tuesday night to discuss initiatives to recruit a diverse class of students.
Tuesday’s resolution requests $300 from CSG’s Legislative Discretionary account to fund the Police Brutality Speakout, sponsored by CSG, the Black Student Union and Students of Color of Rackham. The money will fund room rental, audio-visual equipment and refreshments.
Last semester, CSG passed a resolution calling for a conversation on campus safety and police brutality. Wednesday’s Police Brutality Speakout is a product of that resolution.
CSG’s initiatives were in response to events in Ferguson, Mo. in which unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown was shot by a white police officer, sparking a nationwide debate on racial stereotyping and police violence.
Later in the meeting, Zearfoss, the Law School assistant dean, discussed minority enrollment at the University during the time allotted for guest speakers at CSG meetings.
Zearfoss discussed the history of minority enrollment at the University, including a timeline of U.S. Supreme Court cases related to affirmative action and the state of Michigan’s 2006 passage of Proposal 2, which banned the use of affirmative action in admissions.
“Racial diversity improves the dialogue on campus and the learning environment,” she said.
In recent months, several events have called on the University to improve its efforts to recruit and enroll minority students, including protests and campaigns organized by the BSU.
Zearfoss said the Law School makes a concentrated effort to recruit a diverse applicant pool by personally reaching out to potential students, visiting campuses and waiving application fees. However, these efforts have not yielded a significantly diverse enrollment.
“All of the steps we take are useful and helpful but it will never substitute the more direct route of just taking race into account,” she said. “So, it will always be something we have to continually give attention to and examine to see what we can do better.”
CSG representatives had the opportunity to ask Zearfoss questions after she finished speaking.
CSG President Bobby Dishell, a Public Policy senior, asked about the potential implementation and impact of pipeline programs, outreach programs designed to prepare targeted students for higher education.
Zearfoss said pipeline programs would not be effective for ensuring diversity in a program as competitive as the University’s Law School.
“I think making personal connections is the key for us,” she said.