The Defend Affirmative Action Party is living up to its name
during this year’s Michigan Student Assembly elections,
fighting for a cause that brought the University to the national
spotlight almost seven years ago.

The 18 DAAP candidates running for MSA positions are hoping to
garner the votes of students who have been active in the fight for
affirmative action since the University was first sued regarding
its race-conscious admissions policies in the fall of 1997.

“We’re calling on students who are part of this
action to vote and continue to fight because obviously this is not
over,” DAAP presidential candidate Kate Stenvig said.
“Right now we are fighting to defend the victory at the
(U.S.) Supreme Court and particularly to face the attack of the
Michigan Civil Rights Initiative petition,” Stenvig said.

The Court ruled last June that the University could use race as
one of many factors in admissions, but it struck down the point
system it used to admit undergraduates. Currently, supporters of
the MCRI are trying to bring a referendum to November’s
ballot asking voters to ban affirmative action policies at state
universities.

DAAP is focused on fighting the MCRI by organizing a
“Decline to Sign” campaign to deter students from
signing the MCRI petition.

“I think the fight that we have in Michigan to fight this
ballot initiative is central in the national battle for affirmative
action,” Stenvig said. “We’ve been doing a
“Decline to Sign” campaign to try to consolidate the
support for affirmative action on campus.”

Another issue that DAAP is addressing is the prevention of
changes to the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center.
“To cut SAPAC is totally outrageous,” Stenvig said.
“Especially knowing how rampant sexual assault and rape are
on campus, it’s such a step backwards.”

Fighting recent cuts to certain student groups and offices such
as the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs is
also a concern of DAAP, party vice presidential candidate said
Cyril Cordor.

“The University has been doing a whole series of
cutbacks,” Cordor said, an LSA junior. “(We want) MSA
to be a real student union so that the administration doesn’t
feel like it can do these things.”

Cordor said if DAAP wins any positions within MSA, its
candidates would like to make MSA a more interactive group that
allows for more student input, especially in terms of
budgeting.

“You have to come up with a series of ideas and get input
from students on how to allocate money,” Cordor said.

But DAAP is in favor of a $1 increase in student fees this year
to fund renovations of the William Monroe Trotter House, a student
cultural center.

On the national scale, DAAP is organizing participation in a
national march on Washington scheduled for May 15 in honor of the
50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court
decision. Stenvig sees the anniversary of the decision as a pivotal
event in the fight for affirmative action.

“Since this is the 50th anniversary of Brown, we have the
opportunity to decide which direction we’re going,”
Stenvig said, referring to whether the state and the country will
choose to support or contest affirmative action. “If we lose
affirmative action, there will be a 75 percent drop in minority
enrollment. We’ve seen this in California.”

Stenvig will be going up against presidential candidates from
Students First and independent candidates in a debate tonight at
the WOLV TV station.

Elections will be held on Wednesday, March 17 and Thursday,
March 18.

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