Saturday, October 6, 2007

Is the University of Michigan breaking the law?

From 1995 to 1997, the University of Michigan employed an explicit quota system for black students and certain other minorities. In 1998, after Jennifer Gratz and friends started making trouble, UMich made a cosmetic switch to a points system. In this system, and I swear I'm not making this up, a black applicant automatically received 20 points, whereas an outstanding application essay received . . . 1 point. However, in 2003, the Supreme Court invalidated the points system, basically ruling that the university could still work to ensure 'diversity,' but that it had to do so in a less mechanical, more individualized fashion.

In November of last year, however, the good people of Michigan told off their betters at the Supreme Court and the University by passing Proposal 2, the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, which amended the state constitution to ban the use of racial preferences in public education and government. The University and its allies did everything they could to weasel out of the ruling, to no avail.

That, as I understand it, is the situation as it stands today. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the citizens of Michigan, after a long and very intense fight, succeeded in banning affirmative action - that the state constitution now prohibits the University of Michigan from using its admissions office to engineer racial diversity.

All of which brings me, at long last, to my point. Here is the Michigan application essay question for this fall:

"'We know that diversity makes us a better university – better for learning, for teaching, and for conducting research.' Share an experience through which you have gained respect for intellectual, social, or cultural differences. Comment on how your personal experiences and achievements would contribute to the diversity of the University of Michigan."

The quotation in the first line comes from an infamous speech given by UMich President Mary Sue Coleman the day after Proposal 2's approval, in which she told off the voters of her state and vowed to do her best to subvert the law and promote diversity. This question is, then, a second slap in the face to Michigan's voters. True, the text mentions 'intellectual' differences as well, but why am I not convinced?

So, my question is, isn't this, in addition to being an immature and cheap trick, also a blatant violation of Proposal 2?

My second question is, isn't this whole effort by the admissions office also profoundly self-defeating? After all, as I understand it, the whole point of an institution like UMich is to thoroughly indoctrinate the unsuspecting young with all the pc idiocies of modern liberalism. But, if the kids are already drinking the KoolAid to begin with, as would have to be the case to be able to successfully respond to an essay question like the one above, what the heck are they going to do for four whole years at college?

In closing, please see this post for all you need to know about President Coleman and the trouble with affirmative action. Oh, and don't you just love how, whenever something really harmful or just plain nuts happens in our society, Lee Bollinger's name always seems to come up? He's like an even more clueless Forrest Gump.

UPDATE: Welcome, Five Feet of Fury readers! Thanks for the link! If you're interested in a more positive development in higher ed, see here. And to get depressed about college kids all over again, there's this.

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