Inclement weather in Washington hindered plans for two special events today regarding the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court lawsuits dealing with the University’s use of race in its admissions policies. The events were scheduled to coincide with tomorrow’s deadline for the University and its supporters to file briefs with the court.
University President Mary Sue Coleman was originally planning to give the keynote address at the annual meeting of the American Council of Education at the Marriot Wardman Park Hotel today.
Following that, Coleman – along with representatives of organizations filing amicus briefs with the University – was to hold a press conference to address questions about the lawsuits.
Due to 24 inches of snowfall in the Washington area last night, the press conference was cancelled. Coleman was still unsure last night if she could fly out of Detroit to speak at the luncheon. If she cannot make the function in person, her remarks will be telecast to the ACE luncheon via satellite.
University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said the number of briefs filed in support of the University is a record for one case.
“We’ve got more than 60 briefs … and more than 300 organizations who are a part of these,” Peterson said.
These organizations include General Motors Corp., Shell Oil, the AFL-CIO and the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Several universities and colleges have also filed amicus briefs, including Brown University, Harvard University and the University of Chicago. University administrators all over the country recently expressed the importance of diversity in higher education.
“It’s important to note here that any decision in these cases would affect private and public universities across the country,” University Assistant General Counsel Jonathan Alger said in December.
Also filing amicus briefs are Princeton University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, two schools that have recently altered programs catered toward minorities. Last week, MIT decided to open up two summer programs, previously reserved for incoming minority freshmen, to all first-year students. Two weeks ago, Princeton announced it would no longer sponsor a program in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy designed exclusively for underrepresented minorities after this summer.
But at the time, Princeton spokesman Robert Durkee noted the school still has a strong dedication toward maintaining a diverse campus.
“This (decision) doesn’t (in) anyway suggest any reduction in that commitment,” Durkee said.