ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Word of a Supreme Court ruling on the University of Michigan's admissions policy awakened the tree-sheltered campus from its summer doldrums, sending about 100 students to the campus center to celebrate.
"Unity, diversity, a better university," echoed from the walls of the Graduate Library Monday as nearby guides led groups of incoming freshmen on a tour of the campus.
The court upheld Michigan's law school admissions system, which considers racial diversity, while rejecting the university's awarding of extra points to minority undergraduate applicants.
Affirmative action supporter Jackie Bray, 20, a senior from Ridgewood, N.J., was at her apartment when she learned of the long-awaited rulings.
"I got a call at 10:15 this morning," said Bray, one of three co-chairs of Students Supporting Affirmative Action, a coalition of 30 campus groups. "And screaming in my phone was `We won! We won! We won!"'
The Supreme Court's 6-3 ruling throwing out Michigan's undergraduate admissions rules, which give points to black, Hispanic and American Indian applicants, did not faze her. Instead, she focused on the 5-4 decision upholding the law school's separate admissions process.
Some students hailed the rulings.
"This is a tremendous victory ... for the new civil rights movement," said Agnes Aleobua, a fourth-year education student who was one of the minority student interveners in the cases. "This is a victory for all the young people across the nation."
"This was a huge victory," said Monique Perry, 20, who is black and is the student government vice president.
At his home just off campus, the school's most visible opponent of race-based admissions said that Michigan's form of affirmative action will not endure for long.
"It is time in our country for us to transcend the categories of race ... and to see an end to the giving advantages or penalties for the color of skin," said philosophy Professor Carl Cohen.
One of the white students who sued the university after being denied admission as an undergraduate had mixed feelings.
"I'm happy the court recognized the inherent unfairness of the undergraduate admissions system," said Jennifer Gratz of Oceanside, Calif. "I believe this decision will make it harder for schools to use race-based preferences. It's unfortunate the court failed to see that the law school system is equally unfair."