LSA senior Heather Mc Phail remembers her freshman orientation when she randomly spoke out against the University’s race-conscious admissions policies.
“People thought I was nuts,” Mc Phail said yesterday. “They were surprised.”
In a Michigan Student Assembly survey completed last week during elections, 41.5 percent of students expressed their opposition to the admissions policies, while 40.8 percent of students said they supported the University. Furthermore, 17.7 percent of students said they needed more information before making an intelligent decision.
This survey was conducted on a campus where the voices of groups such as the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action and Fight for Integration and Equality By Any Means Necessary are usually louder than those of Young Americans for Freedom – a conservative faction opposed to the University’s admissions policies. In addition, the University is set to defend their admissions policies before the U.S. Supreme Court a week from today.
Like many other students across campus either opposing or supporting the policies, Mc Phail said the students who do oppose the policies find it futile to express their opinions. No matter how much they protest, the University has made up its mind and will not listen to them.
“I think it’s because the way the school is run. People are supposed to be tolerant of diversity,” Mc Phail said. “We pride ourselves on being liberal.”
“I think a lot of people feel, ‘No matter what I say, the administration has their agenda and they’re going to push it,'” Rackham student Jackie Two Feathers said, adding that she is in favor of race-conscious admissions.
Two Feathers compared the University’s admissions policies to the current war in Iraq. She said both the Bush administration and University administration are stubborn in their position and need to do a better job in public outreach.
“Both administrations made their positions known right away and didn’t seem like they were willing to compromise very much,” she said. “I think (the University administration) has to take into consideration what the student body is feeling.”
LSA sophomore Phil Albrecht said that students who oppose the University’s admissions policies are more likely to be stigmatized on campus.
“I think they feel like they’re automatically disadvantaged because they’re not aligned with the University,” he said.
But political science Prof. Gregory Markus said he feels if students are upset with the University’s policies they need to speak out. He added that the University could do a better job in educating students regarding the admissions policies.
“Politics is conducted by those who take the time and effort to engage themselves,” Markus said. “We could do a much better job in terms of educating students about the nature of politics and their place in it and their power in it.”
But Mc Phail said that she feels students who support the University’s policies are more visible because the University administration wants them to be.
“The news is tilted through the University. The University is going to want to make it look like there’s more support,” Mc Phail said.