As the University’s admissions policies garner more and more scrutiny nationwide, many influential purveyors of the printed word are looking to get a piece of the action. Unfortunately, they seem to be unconcerned with painting an accurate picture of campus sentiment regarding affirmative action.

Several publications have based their assessments on brief visits to the University and random student interviews, and it is obvious the media is not convinced that a collective pro-affirmative action status exists among students. Moreover, the media is uncertain if students at the University even care. Whether or not their assessment of the University community is true, the image has been established, and students must do their best to retract the bluff and prove that this community supports the University.

And it will not be easy. Powerful papers including The New York Times and The Washington Post and, more locally, the Detroit Free Press. All of these publications have recently printed articles insinuating that University students are unconcerned with, unaffected by and even uninterested in diversity on this campus.

As the U.S. Supreme Court heard the oral arguments in the University’s admissions case, The Washington Post reported that the University’s “image of racial diversity is an illusion,” that “ambivalence toward the University is shared by many black and Latino students in Michigan” and that members of the 75-percent white student population “Control campus life from student government to pep squad.”

The next day, the Detroit Free Press wrote that though the arguments were heard only one day earlier, “the main campus in Ann Arbor was dominated by a warm spring breeze and the pressure of final exams looming later this month.” The article described the campus attitude toward the admissions case as almost indifferent with, “students (sticking) their noses in textbooks” and “casual conversations (being) more about sports than courts.” The not-so-subtle implication here is that the moment students begin to care about academics or sports or anything other than the admissions lawsuits, they’ve exposed themselves as apathetic. That real activists never follow basketball.

In an April 4 news article, The New York Times described a campus concerned with “weekend luaus, $6 concerts, and spring break,” insisting that University students prefer to “sit quietly on the sidelines” rather than speak out. The damning evidence that led the Times to this conclusion? “Campus posters.”

Had these reporters seen the student enthusiasm on campus prior to the trial such articles may never have been written. However, these negative characterizations only serve to remind activists on campus that their job is far from over. The spirit of this University should be reflected in its student body. Students need to set an example as an institution that cares about affirmative action and stands as the perfect model of what diversity accomplishes.

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