Though students are divided on the validity of the University’s use of race as a factor in admissions, many agreed on the importance of the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday to hear the two lawsuits facing the University regarding its current admissions policies.
“It’s an exciting time to be a student at the University of Michigan. This is definitely a historic moment,” Michigan Student Assembly President Sarah Boot said.
But she said she wants and expects the University to uphold its current admission policies.
“Right now we’re the victors. Right now our policies are deemed legal,” Boot said. “I’m excited that affirmative action in higher education has moved to the level of the Supreme Court.”
For supporters of the issue, including LSA senior Kendra Byrne, yesterday was a time to uphold their opinions maintaining the use of race as an integral component of the admissions processes for institutions of higher education.
“A lot of people are really sheltered and when they go to college they should see people that are not like themselves,” Byrne said. “People should not view affirmative action as policies rewarding unfair advantages to minority groups,” Byrne added.
Interfraternity Council President Joel Winston said like many other student organizations, IFC supports the University’s policies on diversity but would like to see more integration outside the classroom.
“Many feel the University falls short of promoting diversity outside the classroom. From an IFC perspective, we wish the University would do more to work with us,” Winston said, adding there is a great deal that lies within the exploration of diversity.
From a personal standpoint, Winston said reforms in public education are necessary to promote future equality among students.
“I don’t think there’s enough opportunity for everyone,” he said. “The government needs to enforce a minimal level of education that is not sub-par. The University will have a difficult fight defending their diversity argument because diversity needs to occur in more areas than the classroom. It needs to work to cultivate an environment that promotes true interaction across the board.”
But LSA senior Justin James Wilson, a member of Young Americans for Freedom, said the issue of affirmative action is rooted in racism. Although he said he supports the Court’s decision to hear the two cases, Wilson said he hopes the court will recognize the segregation affirmative action creates.
“It’s one more step toward segregation in higher education,” Wilson said. “How can you have true equality when you have unequal means of achieving it?”
Wilson said the de-institutionalization of racism is the inevitable answer to the debate.
“The only way to convince people and solve the problem of ambient racism is de-institutionalizing racism,” he said, adding that Americans decided to not let race be a deciding factor in a person’s fate in 1964 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act.
School of Art and Design freshman Megan Hildebrandt said affirmative action deviated from its original mission and now policies offering advantages to selected minorities need to be changed.
“It was a good idea when it first started and I think it’s a good idea for people in urban areas, but I wish (administrators) could totally change affirmative action so it is based on financial need rather than skin color and origin,” Hildebrandt said.
The Supreme Court’s acceptance of the cases might potentially create several widespread effects, Engineering junior Ruben Duran said.
“It will allow affirmative action to be exposed for what it is,” Duran said. “I think the administration is mortified. Now it has to stand up to the Constitution and it won’t pass,” Duran said, adding that the University’s active discrimination is a violation of the 14th amendment, which grants United States citizens equal protection under the law.