Affirmative action is once again a topic of discussion within the Michigan appellate court system. On July 1, a three-member panel from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2 to 1 to remove the ban on consideration of race in college admissions that Michigan voters approved in 2006. The decision, made in July, is being reviewed again in 2012, but affirmative action should be used by the University in its admissions process, and the courts should reject this appeal.
In November 2006, Michigan voters passed Proposition 2 — also known as the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative — which was a proposed amendment to the Michigan Constitution. The proposal intended to bar public universities from considering race in admissions decisions as well as barring the consideration of race in government hiring. Voters passed the amendment by a vote of 58 to 42 percent. However, the ban must ultimately be overturned.
In a rare occurrence, the appeals court has agreed to hear the case presented again in its entirety. This time, the case will be heard by the entire court rather than another three-member panel. Oral arguments are set to take place next year.
Prop 2, as it is currently written and enforced by law, is unconstitutional. The main purpose of the amendment violates the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which grants all individuals equal protection under the law. The proposition violates this amendment because it fails to allow admissions counselors to consider one’s race as criteria for admission. Admissions counselors shouldn’t be denied the option to consider this component, which certainly plays a role in an applicant’s life.
As of now, Prop 2 remains in effect, meaning the University is unable to consider race for its current undergraduate application cycle. The University needs to be able to consider this and give these students a chance to attend an established college in order to reach their full potential.
The consideration of race in college admissions not only promotes a sense of cultural understanding throughout the University, but it also promotes diversity. In order for the University to be a truly diverse community, it must factor in components like race and socioeconomic status when making admissions decisions. Not allowing the University to consider race is unacceptable.
Opponents of affirmative action often claim the policy is reverse discrimination. However, affirmative action simply seeks to give universities the opportunity to evaluate applicants holistically by considering their entire background in its entirety.
Right now, admissions counselors here at the University are beginning to sift through piles of applications. The University prides itself on the promotion of tolerance and acceptance of all people. Failing to consider race in the admissions process prohibits the University from upholding its commitment to diversity.