In addition to eliminating race-conscious admissions, the
Michigan Civil Rights Initiative’s ballot proposal could have
crippling effects on the retention of underrepresented minority
students if passed, according to the University. The initiative
could also decrease the availability of scholarships and spots in
special academic programs to these students, University spokeswoman
Julie Peterson said.
The ballot initiative, which seeks to amend the state
constitution to ban what it calls “preferences based on race,
ethnicity and gender” in public education, employment and
contracting, would possibly eliminate the use of race as a factor
in any scholarships, outreach or mentorship programs.
Some proponents of race-conscious policies say the loss of race
as a factor in outreach and academic programs would lessen the
University’s retention of racial minority students.
“Even if you have a private scholarship, there’s no
retention program,” said BAMN member Kate Stenvig, an LSA
senior. “I think that if our society is moving in a direction
of more segregation those private programs might be
During the 2002-2003 academic year, The University and other
outside sources granted nearly $206 million in scholarships to its
students. Of these grants, 19 percent were awarded to
underrepresented minorities. If the MCRI amendment were to be
approved in statewide vote in November, these awards would be
jeopardized, Peterson said.
“Some of our financial aid programs could be affected by
the ballot initiative,” Peterson said. “If the
initiative is interpreted as broadly as Proposition 209 in
California — after which it was modeled — then any
consideration of race, gender or national origin in financial aid
and outreach programs could be forbidden.”
Proposition 209 eliminated affirmative action programs in
California in November of 1996.
Just how many scholarships and programs would be affected is
unknown as the University is in the process of reviewing its
programs to ensure that they comply with the Supreme Court’s
June 2003 ruling.
The court upheld the Law School’s policy of using race as
one of many factors in admission but eliminated the point system
that gave 20 points to underrepresented minorities in the LSA
While University scholarships would be affected by the
initiative, private scholarships would be untouched, said Justin
Lacroix, coordinator for the ballot initiative on campus.
“Nothing private is affected by the MCRI,” said
Lacroix, an LSA sophomore. “I don’t think (the
initiative) would have anything to do with private
Depending on how broadly the initiative would be interpreted by
organizations in Michigan, it could have the effect of eliminating
race as a factor in admissions decision making for University
programs such as the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program and
Women in Science and Engineering.
“UROP is (a program) that is open to students of all races
but it does have an emphasis on underrepresented minorities and
women in science so it could be affected,” University
Assistant General Counsel Jonathan Alger said.
This eradication of race as a basis for admission into outreach
and academic programs would be detrimental to the quality of
education at the University, Alger said.
“All of these tools work together to produce a diverse
student body,” Alger said. “Anything that would
restrict our ability to ensure diversity in these programs would
have an effect on the quality of education in these
If the MCRI obtains 317,575 valid signatures by July 6, state
residents will vote on the issue in the November election. The MCRI
petition form was recently ruled invalid by Ingham County judge
Paula Manderfield for not stating the article of the constitution
that it is seeking to alter. Michigan attorney general Mike Cox has
chosen to appeal the case at the state Court of Appeals. A ruling
from that court is likely within the next few weeks.