University of Michigan to Comply With Affirmative Action Curbs

The University of Michigan said Wednesday that it is resuming the admission of students for fall 2007 and will comply with new voter-approved curbs on affirmative action.

The Ann Arbor school, along with Wayne State University and Michigan State University, had sought more time to make the switch to admissions or financial aid systems that do not grant preferential treatment based on race or sex.

The University of Michigan had suspended its admissions process but said that admissions would resume Wednesday and would comply with Proposal 2, an amendment to the state Constitution that won voter approval Nov. 7.

Proposal 2 bans the use of race and gender preferences in public university admissions and government hiring and contracting.

"We cannot sustain any further delay in our admissions process without harming our ability to enroll a class of students for the 2007-08 academic year," Teresa A. Sullivan, executive vice president of academic affairs, said in a news release.

The university will continue its legal challenge to the anti-affirmative action measure, but will comply in the interim, Sullivan said.

"As stated in the language of Proposal 2, our admissions and financial aid processes will not discriminate against, nor grant preferential treatment to, any individual on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin," she said.

On Tuesday, the pro-affirmative action group By Any Means Necessary continued its fight against Proposal 2, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to give universities more time to comply with parts of the new law.

The three universities said they wanted to finish the current cycle, mostly affecting students entering the universities later in 2007, under rules that were in place before voters approved Proposal 2 in November.

U.S. District Judge David Lawson granted the universities an extension until July 1 after attorneys for Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Attorney General Mike Cox had signed off on the deal.

But the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati last month said federal law does not warrant granting an extension.

"Our overriding concern is enrolling a strong incoming class, both at the undergraduate level and in our graduate and professional programs," Sullivan said. "Additional delays may cause us to lose applicants, or make it harder for us to enroll the outstanding students we have admitted."

On Tuesday, the pro-affirmative action group also known as BAMN filed an appeal of the 6th Circuit Court's ruling.

"We think this is absolutely essential," Shanta Driver, a BAMN spokeswoman, said of reinstating the extension. She said that trying to force universities to change their rules in the middle of an admissions cycle is "ridiculous."

The Center for Individual Rights, a group that favors immediate enforcement of Proposal 2, had gone to a state court to try and force universities to obey the new law. The center represents Eric Russell, an Auburn Hills man seeking admission to the University of Michigan's law school.

Cox said he also planned to intervene in the state case to force immediate compliance, saying it has become clear that Michigan's universities are capable of obeying Proposal 2.

Michigan State University spokesman Terry Denbow said it joined the legal challenge to Proposal 2 to help clarify its meaning, but he said officials at the East Lansing school believe they were obeying the terms of the new law.

"We have been, were at the time and are in compliance with the law," Denbow said.

A message was left Wednesday with Wayne State University on the status of its admissions.