The date is now set. On April 1, the University and the Center for Individual Rights will deliver oral arguments in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. After nearly six years of legal wrangling, the merits of the University’s admissions policies will have an audience with the final arbiters of constitutionality – and the University should be well represented in Washington on that day.

While high-level administrators and campus activists are expected to travel to Washington in large numbers, it is important that these segments of the University’s population are not the only advocates for the University’s position in Washington. Although a large delegation in support of the University’s policies is unlikely to alter the final decision of the Supreme Court, their presence can influence popular opinion on the often divisive issue of affirmative action.

Members of the University community should have the privilege of witnessing the drama surrounding these historic cases first-hand. Although there will be an extremely limited number of seats for the oral arguments, there should be a great deal of events taking place outside of the court chambers to warrant the attendance of University students. A large contingent of members of the University will help reinforce the importance that our community places in the outcomes of these cases.

Once a year, when the football team makes its annual trip to a bowl game, the University and its alumni association mobilize their considerable resources to create affordable travel packages for anyone interested in attending the events. The University should employ a similar strategy for the April 1 hearings. The University should book hotels, airline and bus tickets, coordinate logistics and encourage both student and alumni to make the trip to Washington. University Regent Andrea Fischer Newman (R-Ann Arbor) should utilize her considerable influence as a senior vice president of Northwest Airlines to help secure discounted airfares to Washington. The cases are far more important than the temporary diversion of a Michigan bowl game and the University should respond to the cases with a bare minimum of effort that they employ for a football contest.

During the days leading up to the hearings, a large number of University students will begin making their way toward Washington. Since the hearing will take place on a Tuesday, a trip to the Supreme Court will require that students miss a few days of class. It is essential that professors understand the significance of student presence and participation in Washington on April 1 and be willing to view student absences sympathetically. The University prides itself on experiential learning and an activist tradition; this is the best opportunity to proactively display these central ideals of the University in Washington.

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