Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Sixth Circuit Court’s ruling and reinstated the State of Michigan’s ban on racial preferences in college admissions. This ban was enacted by Michigan voters in 2006 as a part of the Proposal 2 public referendum. For me, it was an anticlimactic decision that was simply the last nail in the coffin for affirmative action policies and procedures at the University of Michigan and other public education institutions. I’m still contemplating this development, and will have a lot more to say in a few days, but for now I’m studying the decision and the reaction to it. While I compose my coming article on the issue, I’d like to note three things:
- The Supreme Court didn’t decide that affirmative action could not or should not be applied in Michigan. Michigan voters made that decision back in 2006. The Court merely decided that it would not set aside the voters’ decision. Hence we would do well to focus on the prevailing attitudes in our state rather than focus all the attention on the Supreme Court. Note that Black enrollment in particular was declining for years before the passage of Proposal 2; the ballot measure only accelerated that decline.
- In banning consideration of race in college admissions, Proposal 2 locks into place institutional advantages for whites. These include wealth, legacy admissions, and access.
- We in Michigan have historically had a problem engaging each other across racial lines, and that lack of engagement continues to this day. In my opinion, this is the root cause of the destruction of our cities and our urban school districts. The Supreme Court decision reinforces this movement toward less engagement, and that is not a good thing.
My bottom line is that we have some huge fish to fry here in Michigan if we hope to recapture anything like our former greatness. That result will only be possible if we foster greater unity and engagement, rather than continuing down the us-versus-them path.
To read the Schuette v. BAMN Supreme Court decision, click here.
To read Laura Berman’s Detroit News article about the decision, click here.
To read an excellent recent article regarding the diversity situation at Michigan by U-M professor Scott Kurashige, click here.