Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Court orders MCRI onto ballot, contempt charges possible

21. December 2005 • Ari Paul
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The Associated Press reports that a state court has forced the MCRI ballot question—one that would outlaw race-based affirmative action in state universities and public offices—onto the 2006 ballot for November.

The appeals court issued Tuesday’s order because it said the Board of State Canvassers failed to follow a previous court mandate. The four-member elections panel last week deadlocked on a motion to comply with the earlier court order.

Also:

In a strongly worded order, the appeals court said it may address possible contempt charges against the two canvassers who failed to comply with its earlier order.

Opponents of the MCRI claim that canvassers committed fraud in getting people to sign a petition to get its question on the ballot. BAMN will appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.

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  1. Grumble. Great, now the white morons of Michigan will get to say “We don’t think them darkies need a hand up! And because we’s the majorit-eye, we’s makin’ the rules…”
    (What? The great morons of Michigan came out to make sure that gay people couldn’t get equal rights. They’ll come out for this…)
       —js    Dec. 22 '05 - 05:39PM    #
  2. What a sneaky-ass way to zero out Blacks and other people of color out of college and public office! LadyPhoenix
       —LadyPhoenix    Dec. 24 '05 - 09:50AM    #
  3. What will probably happen if it passes is that the University will go to some kind of mechanistic admissions guideline like Texas has, where the top 10 percent of each graduating class is guaranteed admission. This will maintain at least some racial and ethnic diversity (since high schools are highly segregated), but will penalize students who go to academically competitive high schools. I suspect that some voters/parents in Bloomfield Hills, Grosse Pointe etc. will be more unhappy if this passes than they are with the present system
       —PeteM    Dec. 27 '05 - 01:01AM    #
  4. For all of the smearing of BAMN going around, why is it always BAMN that presses these issues to higher courts?

    BAMN called the witnesses in the last affirmative action case. BAMN organized the civil rights conference. BAMN petitioned against the MCRI. BAMN organized the Connerly protest. Now, BAMN is appealing the MCRI fraud to the State Supreme Court.

    If all these “we’re pro-affirmative action but anti-BAMN” groups are really sincere, why aren’t they doing these things?
       —Adam de Angeli    Dec. 27 '05 - 07:45PM    #
  5. Appealing to a Supreme Court where five of the seven justices are members of the Federalist Society is unlikely to do any good for affirmative action.
       —Larry Kestenbaum    Dec. 28 '05 - 11:36AM    #
  6. I would support an end to Sex Based affirmative action in public Universities. We have women as presidents of our major Universities, a majority of students are women, and yet we still have dozens of programs that give additional benefits and extra help to women. Women applicants have higher average test scores and high school GPA’s, get better grades in college and graduate from college at higher rates than men. People say we will get rid of affirmative action programs as soon as they are not needed, but that never happens. Has there ever been a group of people who used affirmative action at one time and don’t today? And if nearly 50 years of affirmative action has not corrected the problems it was intended to right, why keep the practices in existence? I think those who believe affirmative action is needed for women are those who want to reinforce societal stereotypes that women are unable to compete on an equal basis. Why can’t we put an end to sexism (or racism) and treat everyone equally?
       —Karen Luck    Jan. 1 '06 - 01:33PM    #
  7. karen,

    forgive me if i am incorrect, but i do believe the sex-based affirmative action is selective for departments/programs where the sex in question is specifically underrepresented…for example, i believe men get the benefit of affirmative action in nursing school…

    thoughts?

    2006 feels the same, so far,
    ari p.
       —Ari P.    Jan. 1 '06 - 01:56PM    #
  8. Yes, there are a lot of programs that provide affirmative action for women in science and engineering but preferential treatment is not limited to these programs by any means. As I stated earlier, there are dozens of programs on the Michigan campus as well as other schools that specifically help women and not men. CEW (Continuing Education for Women), Agenda for Women, Commission for Women, Advance, Junior Women’s Faculty Network, Michigan Women’s Leadership Project, Leadership for Social Change, Women of Color Task Force, Women of Color in the Academy Project, New Millenium Leaders, Women’s Resource Centers, etc. In addition, there are numerous scholarship opportunities that are limited to only women. These specify women in accounting, business, lesbians, single mothers, and even education! Tell me why we need to have affirmative action programs to help women get teaching jobs??? Women will never be treated as equal as long as we demand a fistfull of accomodations and special programs and scholarships on the job and at institutions of higher learning. Now that the majority of medical school and law school students are women, should we provide affirmative action for white males?
       —Karen Luck    Jan. 2 '06 - 10:45AM    #
  9. “I would support an end to Sex Based affirmative action in public Universities.”

    karen, can you identify the affirmative action programs you would end?

    you listed 11 programs in a followup note—do you support eliminating them?
       —peter honeyman    Jan. 2 '06 - 12:22PM    #
  10. If they are good programs that provide needed services on campus, they should provide those benefits to all deserving students/staff/faculty regardless of sex. They have a program called UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program) on campus at Michigan that started out as a program to get women and minorities into research opportunities with faculty in all kinds of departments across campus. It was a fantastic program and many men wanted to get involved as well. So they opened it up to men and it has continued to do well. I think limiting the program was wrong and opening it up has helped far more people and made the campus better.
       —Karen Luck    Jan. 2 '06 - 01:42PM    #
  11. I’d urge folks to look at class here. Sure, in the upper middle class and upper class, women have achieved a greater level of economic parity with men than ever before. However, across the economy, women still make 70-80 cents to a man’s dollar. 70% of people on minimum wage are women. The people saddled with the responsibility of providing for children when a deadbeat father takes off are women (go check out the FIA line. Not too many Y chromosomes over 12). That’s not even to mention women of color…

    So while some sectors of female society have made great advances, many have been left out.

    Additionally, eliminating programs aimed at benefiting women ignores that our society has been primarily shaped to benefit men (by patriarchy). Women and men should be politically and economically equal but society treats them differently, therefore they have different needs. 10,000 years of patriarchy has had something to do with that, I suspect.

    So keep the CEW, I say!
       —Bates    Jan. 2 '06 - 02:55PM    #
  12. “And if nearly 50 years of affirmative action has not corrected the problems it was intended to right, why keep the practices in existence?”

    Karen, please tell us what affirmative action program has been in place since 1955. I’m curious.

    It’s funny how we had a society that institutionalized affirmative action for white men for almost 200 years with nary a peep from those benefiting from it but when the tables are turned and white men are, in theory, deprived of this advantage, they demand equality for everyone.
       —John Q.    Jan. 2 '06 - 04:28PM    #
  13. Affirmative action for women began on the University of Michigan campus in 1964 – 42 years ago. O.K. – not 50, but I was in the ballpark?? Yes, there are class differences. But the overwhelming majority of women who obtain the benefits of affirmative action on college campuses are from the upper middle class or upper class. Women who are working at minimum wage jobs are not the one’s able to take advantage of affirmative action programs at state universities. And while some sectors of white male society have prospered, many white males have been left out. Healthy adult males are not standing in the FIA lines only because they are excluded from the benefits.
       —Karen Luck    Jan. 2 '06 - 05:02PM    #
  14. When Brandeis University was founded, I think in the 1940s, they were determined to admit the top students regardless of demography. After all, the founders were Jews who had seen the Ivy League limit the number of Jews who were admitted.

    But an awkward thing happened. If they admitted only the top applicants, more than 80% of the first entering class would be women. And they didn’t want Brandeis to have an overwhelmingly female student body. Nor, in all likelihood, did any of their prospective students—men or women.

    Hence, they were forced to have a lower standard for male applicants, so that Brandeis could start with something like a 1:1 sex ratio.
       —Larry Kestenbaum    Jan. 2 '06 - 06:59PM    #
  15. And they didn’t want Brandeis to have an overwhelmingly female student body. Nor, in all likelihood, did any of their prospective students—men or women.

    That’s an interesting example, Larry. I wonder if the applicants would have worked it out themselves if Brandeis hadn’t messed with it. If 80% of the student body were female, fewer women might have applied in subsequent years until more of a gender balance was achieved. What do you think?

    I like the way Karen thinks about this. Rather than continuing to treat the symptoms, we could really strive for equal opportunity and attention and in the process improve the overall education system. (Brandeis and U-M don’t operate in vacuums, after all.) We seem to be stuck in a broken system trying to treat symptoms that will never go away as long as we accept them as unavoidable.

    I’m not arguing that a constitutional amendment is the solution (or even part of one.) Carl Cohen makes a strong case for it, though, I think. If it were in place what would be a positive followup to further improve things? Try to think outside your personal ‘box’ and go several steps beyond where you’ve explored in the past. You might find that it’s actually the best direction to move in. On the other hand, you might find a fatal flaw beyond the horizon that no one has discovered yet. Only open minds are capable of a full exploration. Identifying fears isn’t the last step in coming to a conclusion, it’s the first one.
       —Steve Bean    Jan. 2 '06 - 08:50PM    #
  16. Steve, I’m guessing that the first years of Brandeis were expected to be critical, formative ones. In the environment of 1940s America, a college with 85% female students would not be on the road to becoming the kind of elite, coeducational institution the founders had in mind.
       —Larry Kestenbaum    Jan. 2 '06 - 10:35PM    #
  17. Steve,

    I guess I might place more faith in changing “the system” if, by and large, the people advocating for change weren’t the ones who benefited from affirmative action when it kept women in the kitchen and minorities in second-class. Now they claim that they want a “color-blind” society when they never cared for anything of the sort when it benefited themselves.
       —John Q.    Jan. 2 '06 - 11:30PM    #
  18. I think I’m with John Q. – it really would be nice if there were any hope of fixing things at a more root-level, but, when university admissions are what we have available to work with, that’s where we need to work. Maybe the current system isn’t the best one (and I do think I’d prefer a system that selected more on economic status or by-school than by race or gender), but I don’t think that means the general concept of using university admissions as the instrument is flawed.
       —Murph    Jan. 3 '06 - 12:02PM    #
  19. I find the argument that, instead of using affirmative action to redress social wrongs we should really be focusing on the root causes, really interesting. what would that mean?

    -Eliminate institutional racism.

    -Massive reinvestment in primary and secondary education, especially in inner-cities
    -as a corrolary, education would require a huge change in our tax system (increases in taxes, especially for the rich and an end to local funding of schools)

    -massive increases in health spending for the poor (equalizing the several extra years whites have on Blacks and Latinos, infant mortality, general healthfulness through access to healthcare)

    -create over 10 million units of low-income housing (we have yet to build houses for all those who were kicked out of their neighborhoods during the slum clearances/urban renewal in the seventies, and much of what was built has been torn down)

    -decrease the cost of quality higher education or vocational training

    -eliminate mortgage discrimination and racial steering to create integrated neighborhoods

    Affirmative aciton is a flawed program. However, the programs that would make real change stand no chance of being implemented.

    I say don’t let the perfect stand in the way of the good.
       —Bates    Jan. 3 '06 - 02:09PM    #
  20. Larry, I agree with your guess, and yet I think they made a short-sighted mistake that has contributed to the problem. I wonder if we’re in the same well-intentioned position today.

    John Q., deciding on an issue based on ‘who’ rather than ‘what’ is what got us into this mess in the first place. Divisiveness isn’t limited to sex and race, it’s alive and well between so-called liberals and conservatives, to no one’s true benefit.

    Bates, it remains to be seen whether it is indeed “good”. I think we have a shot at ‘better’, if not “perfect”.
       —Steve Bean    Jan. 3 '06 - 05:56PM    #
  21. The most important distinction in American life is one of class. The argument can be made that poor men have it better than poor women, though it’s harder to argue that poor whites and poor blacks are really that far apart. I’m planning on writing an editorial in the next couple of weeks on ending affirmative action (drop me a line, Dumi, if you read this), and I think that’s probably the tack I’ll choose…
       —js    Jan. 3 '06 - 06:06PM    #
  22. One of the interesting historical notes is that while opponents of affirmative action point to the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection” clause to claim that affirmative action is somehow immoral or illegal, the same 14th Amendment also gave rise to a great deal of “affirmative action” programs after the Civil War to assist freed slaves and free blacks. So in this regard, true constitutional originalist should have no problems with affirmative action from a legal standpoint.
       —John Q.    Jan. 3 '06 - 07:26PM    #
  23. “The most important distinction in American life is one of class.”

    I’ve never understood why the University of Michigan doesn’t just give more points for kids whose parents/guardians have incomes that are below the poverty line. It will wind up accomplishing many of the same goals, and right wing nut jobs will have precious little to grumble about…...

    If you had to challenge this shift in point giving in court, what the heck would your argument be? Those poor kids have had it too good for too long? You’re denying the ability of rich kids to get in? No chance.

    Economic status is something (theoretically, and individually, anyways) that is mutable. Why not use that as the criterion?

    Heck, think of the GI Bill. Those soldiers (my grandfather was one of them) would have never darkened the hallways in 1,000 years if it weren’t for the change in admissions criteria and method of tuition payment. It worked, and no one complained. I can’t think of any other program that did more to elevate an entire economic class than the GI Bill. Why not try and replicate it?
       —todd    Jan. 4 '06 - 11:37AM    #
  24. I’ve never understood why the University of Michigan doesn’t just give more points for kids whose parents/guardians have incomes that are below the poverty line. It will wind up accomplishing many of the same goals, and right wing nut jobs will have precious little to grumble about…

    Well the University has done that and it doesn’t accomplish the same goals. Back when the U was using the point system for undergrad admissions, there was a 20 point bonus for disadvantaged students and a 20 point bonus for underrepresented minorities. But you couldn’t get both. So why didn’t they just have the bonus for socio-economic disadvantage and not the race-based bonus?

    Because the only way to get the number of minorities to desired levels was to award the 20 point bonus to minority applicants who were not disadvantaged. In fact, none of the beneficiaries of affirmative action under this old system were disadvantaged. Poor minority applicants already got the 20 point boost for being poor. Only non-poor minorities got the 20 point boost for minority status.
       —mw    Jan. 4 '06 - 12:09PM    #
  25. “Because the only way to get the number of minorities to desired levels was to award the 20 point bonus to minority applicants who were not disadvantaged. In fact, none of the beneficiaries of affirmative action under this old system were disadvantaged.”

    Whoa. So are you telling me that UMich has been unable to get any of the “disadvantaged” kids, say, in the state of Michigan to apply? I have to say that I find that hard to believe.

    Am I reading this correctly? In the history of the program, not one poor minority has applied?

    If this is true, then the problem isn’t the program….it’s getting the word out that this program exists, and attracting poor minorities to apply to UMich.

    My girlfriend works for the Ford Poverty Center, and she said one of the biggest problem with programs for the poor is letting those who need help know about the programs that are out there…...
       —todd    Jan. 4 '06 - 12:19PM    #
  26. todd,

    I think you misread mw’s statement. mw didn’t say that none of the applicants were porr. mw said that none of the applicants getting points for being a minority were poor.

    According to mw, if you were poor and minority, you got points for being poor. If you were not poor and a minority, you got points for being a minority. mw said that you couldn’t get points for both so poor minorities didn’t get 40 points for being poor and a minority, only 20 points for being poor.

    By mw’s reasoning, the only people gaining from “affirmative action” were more affluent minorities since they were the only ones getting points for being a minority. Apparently, this was needed to boost minority applicants to the levels desired beyond what was achieved by justing boosting poor applicants.

    I’m not sure I follow the logic in this though. How does boosting minority applicants who are not poor boost the overall number of minority applicants? I’m assuming that minority applicants coming from a more affluent background had a much higher chance of being better students who would otherwise be competitive with other students. Or was that not the case?
       —John Q    Jan. 4 '06 - 12:53PM    #
  27. If you are economically disadvantaged yet have a high GPA and high SAT scores, there are lots of schools competing to offer you admission and financial aid.

    If you are economically disadvantaged and have suffered through substandard K – 12 education, so that your standardized test scores are low, you might get into college under affirmative action but tend to flunk out quickly. Most advantaged students have some difficulty adjusting the first year of college, can you imagine trying to make up for a lifetime of inadequate preparation as well as trying to assimulate into a very different cultural environment as well?

    To increase numbers, many schools focus on the children of upper middle class minorities who have had all the advantages of priviledge.

    Bates mentioned earlier that we need to invest money and resources to improve housing and education and health care at earlier stages in a person’s lifetime. Yes but money alone doesn’t work.

    I think we need to provide strong motivators at an early age and throughout chilhood and adolescence that reinforce the values that trying hard to achieve academically and staying out of trouble will pay off.

    What if the state promised 4 years tuition free, with living stipends, for those who kept their GPA’s up, passed all their MEAP tests, attained a good SAT score and avoided all criminal behavior for all students whose family incomes were lower than some designated amount? And they could provide Saturday tutoring and mentoring programs to help students meet these goals. Maybe there could be some type of immediate financial benefit for their families as well. Wouldn’t it be cheaper and better for society as a whole?
       —Karen Luck    Jan. 4 '06 - 01:03PM    #
  28. “To increase numbers, many schools focus on the children of upper middle class minorities who have had all the advantages of priviledge.”

    But this is true of the vast majority of students of all colors at UM. I don’t have any stats at hand but I would be VERY surprised if any significant percentage of UM students come from anything less than an upper middle class background, especially among out-of-state students who are paying tuition rates equivalent to most private schools.
       —John Q    Jan. 4 '06 - 01:41PM    #
  29. By mw’s reasoning, the only people gaining from “affirmative action” were more affluent minorities since they were the only ones getting points for being a minority.

    It’s not my reasoning—that was the UM policy. A score boost was provided for all disadvantaged students of any race, but that alone would not have boosted minority enrollment to representative levels. In order to do that, it was necessary to give a score boost to non-disadvantaged minority applicants as well.

    I’m not sure I follow the logic in this though. How does boosting minority applicants who are not poor boost the overall number of minority applicants?

    The issue is not one of boosting the number of applications but rather in getting enough applicants over the admit threshold.

    I’m assuming that minority applicants coming from a more affluent background had a much higher chance of being better students who would otherwise be competitive with other students. Or was that not the case?

    No, unfortunately, that is not the case. That is, African American students from middle-class and affluent backgrounds perform much more poorly in K-12 schools than their socio-economic status would predict. This is what makes the ‘achievement gap’ in Ann Arbor schools (and elsewhere) so vexing—even minority students from middle-class families are underperforming.
       —mw    Jan. 4 '06 - 02:09PM    #
  30. Whoa. So are you telling me that UMich has been unable to get any of the “disadvantaged” kids, say, in the state of Michigan to apply? I have to say that I find that hard to believe.

    Am I reading this correctly? In the history of the program, not one poor minority has applied?

    No, no, no. Under the previous (pre-court decision) admissions policy, disadvanted kids of ANY race got the 20 point bonus. Some of those disadvantaged kids were minorities, some were not, but they got the 20 points based on disadvantage, regardless of race.

    In addition, minority applicants who did not qualify as disadvantaged, got the 20 point bonus anyway for their race. These (non disadvantaged minority kids) were the beneficiaries of the race-based affirmative action.

    Does that make sense?
       —mw    Jan. 4 '06 - 02:13PM    #
  31. “In addition, minority applicants who did not qualify as disadvantaged, got the 20 point bonus anyway for their race.”

    Ah, my apologies for the misreading.
       —todd    Jan. 4 '06 - 03:07PM    #
  32. MCRI will now be on the ballot in November, see, e.g., DetNews, Michigan Supreme Court won’t hear affirmative action ballot case ,

    “A last-ditch effort to prevent voters from considering a proposal that would ban some affirmative action programs in Michigan has failed.

    The Michigan Supreme Court, in an order issued Wednesday, has decided not to hear an appeal of the case, meaning an appeals court decision that the issue should be on the November ballot will stand.

    “We are not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this Court,” the justices said in their order. ...”


       —David Boyle (MCRI on ballot, says Mich. Supreme Court)    Mar. 30 '06 - 11:05PM    #