When the U.S. Supreme Court hears lawyers defend and attack the University’s race-conscious admissions policies Tuesday, the nine justices may need to strain a little to hear the arguments, due to noise from protests and demonstrations outside.
Student groups in favor of the use of race in admissions, the largest of which is the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action and Integration and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary, will travel to Washington to rally outside the Supreme Court building in support of University policies. BAMN said it plans to bring about 100,000 college and high school students from across the country.
LSA freshman Sarah Barnard, a member of BAMN, said she estimates about 220 students from the University’s BAMN chapter are traveling to Washington with an additional 100 high school students from Ann Arbor and Romulus. They will ride in a caravan of buses Monday night with high school students and residents of Detroit.
BAMN plans include a rally in front of the court building from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m, followed by a march to the Lincoln Memorial, where another small rally will be held. Possible speakers include the Rev. Jesse Jackson and BAMN national organizer Shanta Driver.
“I think the majority of BAMN has put the last few years of their lives toward defending affirmative action,” Barnard said. “We’re making a part of history.”
Education senior and BAMN member Agnes Aleobua said BAMN recently received permits for the rallies, so they anticipate no trouble with Washington police. She added that the rally should not represent the end of BAMN’s activism.
“This is really going to set in motion a new civil rights movement,” Aleobua said.
The Michigan Student Assembly allocated $12,000 earlier this month to send 12 buses of students. While MSA made the plans in coordination with Students Supporting Affirmative Action, representatives have emphasized that they welcome students of all viewpoints on the trip.
“SSAA offered to help and we needed that help. It’s not because the students are being to limited to one group or another,” MSA President Angela Galardi said.
SSAA is planning two days of events next week. On Monday, students will wear gags all day on campus to represent the silence of color-blind admissions and white women will wear white armbands. At 5 p.m., they will meet in the Diag for a rally and three hours later, 605 students will board the buses. SSAA plans to participate in the 9 a.m. Washington rally the next day and hold a press conference with the Michigan congressional delegation at 2 p.m.
On the other side of the debate, members of Young Americans for Freedom are driving to Washington and waiting in line at the court in hopes of watching the hearing. James Justin Wilson, editor in chief of the Michigan Review, said the conservatives’ presence will be more muted than their opponents.
“We’re going to have some signs but nothing big,” Wilson said. “In a court of law, a bunch of activism does not matter at all.”