Friday, November 10, 2006

UM's Mary Sue Coleman Demands Racial Preferences Today, Racial Preferences Tomorrow, Racial Preferences Forever
Gail Heriot

Has University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman come unhinged?  You'd think so from the speech she gave Wednesday.  Upset over the landslide in favor of Proposal 2 (the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative), she began her speech this way:

Diversity matters at Michigan, today more than any day in our history.

It matters today, and it will matter tomorrow. It will always matter because it is what makes us the great university we are.

I am deeply disappointed that the voters of our state have rejected affirmative action as a way to help build a community that is fair and equal for all.

But we will not be deterred in the all-important work of creating a diverse, welcoming campus. We will not be deterred.

I understand that in today's world, university presidents do not regard themselves as public servants and thus feel free to criticize the voters.  But couldn't she at least be self aware enough to avoid using language that tracts George Wallace's famous "segregation today ... segregation tomorrow... segregation forever" speech?  Wallace was, of course, engaged in the same sort of massive resistance to universal standards that Coleman now advocates.

Coleman continues:

Today, I have directed our General Counsel to consider every legal option available to us.

In the short term, we will seek confirmation from the courts to complete this year's admissions cycle under our current guidelines. We believe we have the right, indeed the obligation, to complete this process using our existing policies. It would be unfair and wrong for us to review students’ applications using two sets of criteria, and we will ask the courts to affirm that we may finish this process using the policies we currently have in place.

This is our first step, but only our first step.

Two sets of criteria?  Is she kidding?  The whole point of Proposal 2 is that UM has been using two sets (indeed more than two sets) of criteria for years.  Proposal 2 puts an end to that by requiring UM to use universal standards applicable to all persons regardless of race or sex.  I see no basis upon which the Michigan courts can grant a dispensation to UM for the first year.  Proposal 2 is Michigan law.  And no one whose admissions application has not yet been decided upon has relied to his or her detriment on preferential treatment. (A different case can be made for those who are currently receiving scholarship that were made available to them on account of their race or sex.)

Coleman also states:

I believe there are serious questions as to whether this initiative is lawful, particularly as it pertains to higher education. I have asked our attorneys for their full and undivided support in defending diversity at the University of Michigan. I will immediately begin exploring legal action concerning this initiative. But we will not limit our drive for diversity to the courts, because our conviction extends well beyond the legal landscape.

It is a cause that will take our full focus and energy as an institution, and I am ready to begin that work right now. We will find ways to overcome the handcuffs that Proposal 2 attempts to place on our reach for greater diversity.

Proposal 2 is modeled on California's Proposition 209, which was briefly bottled up in litigation after its passage in 1996.  Ultimately, however, it was upheld.  Indeed, the Ninth Circuit opinion held that the argument against Proposition 209 "teeters on the brink of incoherence."  I'm confident that if a similar case is brought in Michigan, the ultimate result will be the same.

The difference is that the California lawsuit was brought by the ACLU on behalf of private parties against governmental entities and officials charged with enforcing the law.  Here Coleman is proposing bringing a lawsuit on behalf of the University of Michigan.  Since when does a state institution threaten to litigate against the state?

By the way, Michigan taxpayers might want to get an accounting of how much it has already cost them to finance UM's efforts to defend its race-based admissions policies in the courts before Coleman is authorized to go another round.  I'll bet it's a lot.

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Gail Heriot


How is Coleman's behavior different from embezzlement, except that she is open about it?

Posted by: William Sjostrom | Nov 10, 2006 12:51:48 AM

She's telling all us poor dumb plebes that they will have to try even harder to indoctrinate the next generation of students to think PC correctly.

Posted by: krm | Nov 11, 2006 7:30:50 PM

Outrageous that Mary Sue Coleman or the University of Michigan can defy the decision of the voters of the state of Michigan. She should immediately be removed from office, and freed up to take her message to the people, funded by sources other than the public.

The voters of the State of Michigan have spoken and Ms. Coleman's behavior goes against the very heart of the democratic process of this country. If this is allowed to continue, what other laws will she or other public servants decide that they are not going to abide by and/or use public funds to defy the deomocratic process?

The pros and cons of proposition 2 are no longer the issue. The issue is a publically funded institution's open defiance of the democratic process of the state of Michigan. She should resign immediately or be removed from office.

Personal information witheld by request.

Posted by: witheld | Nov 12, 2006 1:34:48 AM

how cares lets get high

Posted by: thomas | Oct 23, 2008 9:21:14 AM