A resolution in the Michigan House of Representatives opposing the University’s admissions policies has passed its committee hearing, Speaker Rick Johnson (R-LeRoy), who supports the resolution, chose to not put it up for a vote because of the division it might cause, said Emily Gerkin, Johnson’s spokeswoman.
“It’s a very contentious issue, and out of respect for both sides, we didn’t feel a vote was necessary,” she said. “The purpose was not to divide the House. The speaker wanted to make his point known, but it wasn’t worth causing a rift in the House.”
The resolution might, however, be voted on at a later date, she said.
“When anything is on the counter, it is always eligible for a vote from now until 2004. We don’t have any plans to bring it up in the immediate future, but I wouldn’t rule anything out,” she said.
The resolution, which was sponsored by Rep. Jack Brandenburg (R-Harrison Twp.), urges the University to discontinue its admissions policies that are based on “race, geography or other non-meritorious factors,” and for “the Supreme Court to rule against the University” for practicing such policies.
“I feel it’s a quota system based on race. I don’t like quota systems,” Brandenburg said. “When you give a person 20 points for the color of their skin and a white person nothing, he is starting 20 points behind.”
“I know where Michigan’s coming from – they’re trying to right the wrongs of the past – but two wrongs don’t make a right. You cannot end discrimination with discrimination,” he added.
But other lawmakers disagree with Brandenburg’s judgment of the University’s policies. Rep. Chris Kolb (D-Ann Arbor), who opposed the resolution, said he feels some non-academic factors are quite relevant to University admissions.
“I testified at the committee hearing against the resolution,” Kolb said. “Test scores and grades do not allow you to judge the entire student nor do they take in to account that students from different parts of the state do not have the same educational opportunity. The resolution, if you look at how it is written, also denies preference to in-state students.”
However, the issue is not drawn purely on party lines. Some Republicans, including Rep. Gene DeRossett (R-Freedom Twp.), feel the notion of having a resolution is inappropriate.
“This particular issue should not have come up to the Michigan Legislature,” said Peter Wills, DeRossett’s spokesman.
“This was something he felt should be left up to the Supreme Court,” said Willis.