After a wave of amicus briefs filed in support of the University’s admissions system yesterday, the Michigan Student Assembly chose to “actively support the University’s affirmative action policy” in admissions last night.
In an almost six-hour-long meeting rifted by debate between constituent speakers and representatives, the assembly passed a resolution that formalizes its support for race-conscious admissions policies. The resolution – which succeeded by a 24 to nine to three vote – also requires representatives to educate students about affirmative action.
“The statistic that really got me is that if we got rid of affirmative action in this school, the chance that you could be in a small class (of 10 people or less) with three or more minorities is 0 percent, effectively,” said Budget Priorities Committee Chair Angela Galardi, who supported the resolution. “To me, it’s important to have different perspectives and diversity within a classroom.”
“Not all men are born equal unfortunately, and people have to get realistic here,” said Community Service Commission Vice Chair Edgar Zapata. “I do believe diversity does bring education. I have never felt so passionate about something in my entire life.”
Before voting, MSA gave several student speakers five minutes each to argue their positions on University admissions policies.
“If we are about maintaining a certain sense of quality in this country, at this University, this is the only way we have to do it,” Black Student Union Speaker Aundrea Johnson said. “I haven’t heard of anyone else coming up with a plan that can be implemented on contact.”
But opponents of the resolution said MSA’s position on affirmative action does not accurately represent the student body.
“MSA has no right to try to take a stand for something no one has talked to students about,” Michigan Review Editor in Chief Justin Wilson said, adding that MSA should poll students before voting on the resolution. “In terms of actually coming right out and supporting affirmative action, you’re alienating a lot of students.”
“Race shouldn’t matter so much that minorities get a 20 percent advantage over a white person,” Kinesiology representative T. J. Wharry said, referring to the LSA admissions policy that gives minorities 20 points more than white applicants. “I am against University admissions policies, definitely.”
In addition, several speakers believed passing the resolution was irrelevant to the Supreme Court’s decision in April. “You’re not going to swing any Supreme Court justices, I hate to bring that up,” LSA representative Doug Tietz said. “If you’re going to file an amicus brief, go do it. But what you’re talking about is forcing your viewpoints on other people.”
In addition to passing the resolution, the assembly appointed LSA junior Paul Knupp as director of the Elections Board for the upcoming March elections.