Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on race-conscious admissions more than a year ago, minority enrollment remains an issue for the Defend Affirmative Action Party.
DAAP has 10 candidates running in this year’s student government elections, in which students can vote by logging onto vote.www.umich.edu Wednesday and Thursday. Six of the candidates are running for seats through the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, and three from the Rackham School, while one candidate represents the School of Social Work.
DAAP’s campaign platform this year revolves around reversing the drop in undergraduate minority enrollment within the University, said DAAP campaign manager and Rackham student Kate Stenvig.
“We want to mobilize the support that’s been active working against the minority drop,” Stenvig said. Stenvig has run in every Michigan Student Assembly election for the past five years, under DAAP.
The group is currently circulating a petition attempting to get 10,000 signatures in order to force the University do take some form of action to reverse the trend, Stenvig said. The group currently has 1,000 signatures, she said.
The party was formed in 1997, but for years it was barely represented in MSA. Last fall the party had four members elected to the assembly.
When asked about the party’s lack of success in previous MSA elections, Stenvig said, “We are not only trying to win seats, but build a new civil rights movement.”
DAAP’s platform also includes opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. “We are opposed to the occupation of Iraq. I think its is going to take a movement to end the occupation,” Stenvig said.
The group has proposed that MSA take a stand on the occupation because of its role as a representative of the student body.
“(MSA) is the official voice of students on campus,” Stenvig said, adding that it can lead student governments at other universities to do something and produce a student movement.
On Dec. 10, 2002, prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, MSA passed a resolution against any unilateral pre-emptive military action in that country. “I think that MSA can have as much power as the people on MSA are prepared to demand,” Stenvig said.
LSA junior Monica Smith said she feels that this is possible because of the group’s previous success in having MSA provide firm support of affirmative action.
Stenvig is the leader of BAMN, and throughout DAAP’s history many of its candidates have been members of the pro-affirmative action group. BAMN organized a march in Washington when the U.S. Supreme Court heard the University’s admissions lawsuits.
The other issues that DAAP hopes to focus upon this year involve bringing social and political consciousness to campus, said LSA junior Lee Powell, one of the candidates.
The group also hopes to focus on budget cuts, Stenvig said, as well as what she called discriminatory policies, including harassment and greater police enforcement at parties organized by black and Latino organizations at the Michigan Union, Stenvig said.
“We serve as an example for multiculturalism and diversity for other universities,” Powell said. “It puts more pressure on us to act,” he said.