On a day that marked the beginning of an uncertain new era for the University’s admissions policies, members of the campus community discussed the road ahead.
The Diversity Blueprints Task Force, formed to collect ideas from community members about how to go forward in a post-affirmative action world, held the first in a series of forums yesterday to brainstorm ways to maintain diversity afternoon at the Medical School.
University President Mary Sue Coleman established the Diversity Blueprints Task Force shortly after Proposal 2 passed in November. The task force, which is composed of students, faculty and community members, met for the first time on Dec. 19.
The group will recommend strategies for maintaining diversity on campus in a preliminary report to Coleman on Feb. 15. A final report is due to Coleman by March 15.
An audience of task force members, faculty and a small number of students filled much of Sheldon Auditorium yesterday. After task force co-chair Teresa Sullivan introduced the event, speakers who signed up before the forum were each allotted five minutes to present their ideas about how to maintain a relatively diverse campus.
Nine people stepped forward. The ethnically diverse speakers included student activists and faculty members.
The first speaker was Alejandra Cruz, a graduate from the University of California at Berkeley and an applicant to the University’s Law School. Cruz, who is Latina, recounted her experience as a college student in California after affirmative action was banned there in 1996.
“I saw how black and Latino students are treated with hostility – treated with more and more racism every year, because their numbers are so low,” she said.
LSA senior, a member of the student group Operation Diversity, said her group wants to establish an annual week for celebrating diversity. She said the week could feature activities like an evening of artistic expression including poetry readings and performances or a diversity-themed mural project.
Members of the pro-affirmative action group By Any Means Necessary also spoke at the forum. On Tuesday, BAMN filed a lawsuit with United States Supreme Court to allow Michigan State, Wayne State and the University of Michigan to complete their admissions cycle using affirmative action.
BAMN members said the University needs to concentrate on combating the effects of Proposal 2 through the courts and suggested substantial changes to the undergraduate admissions policy.
BAMN member Neil Lyons said the University should stop considering ACT scores in admissions. He said it has been proven to be a racially biased test.
Veretta Nix, the human resources director of University Health Services, said youth and peer-mentoring programs, like those launched in the School of Nursing, should be established across campus to recruit and retain minority students.