Ann Arbor News -- 1/16/03

Bush attacks UM policy

By Liz Cobbs

President Bush’s surprise televised speech opposing University of Michigan admissions policies quickly made Ann Arbor the buzz of the nation Wednesday, jump-starting another round of debate and yet another chapter in the five-year old saga that will likely end this summer at the U.S. Supreme Court.

University President Mary Sue Coleman said Bush misunderstands the policies. An attorney representing the students who sued the university said the speech reinforces public opinion that already exists against the U-M polices....

"It is unfortunate that the president misunderstands how are admissions process works," Coleman said. . . . "It is a complex process that takes many factors into account and considers the entire background on each student applicant just as the president urged."

Coleman took issue with Bush's use of the term "quota" to describe the U-M admissions process. . . .

"Academic qualifications are the overwhelming consideration for admission to both programs," she said. . . .

"Whatever you think about diversity, Michigan's policy is unconstitutional," Levey said. [Curt Levey is the director of legal and public affairs for the Center for Individual Rights the law firm which brought the anti-affirmative action suit.]

Both the Bush administration and CIR were among the parties filing briefs today that oppose U-M's admissions policy.

Bush's announcement prompted spirited debates among students in the U-M law school's cafeteria Wednesday night.

Mark Griffin, a black law student from Maryland, said more needs to be done to create equal opportunities for all students, especially at public high schools, before affirmative action can be eliminated. “Affirmative action is the equivalent of putting a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound,” Griffin said. “But right not is the best thing we have available.”

Other students argued that although inequities exist, giving applicants a set amount of points for skin color is not the answer.

Israeli-American Yossi Cohen of Staten Island, N.Y., said he is particularly bothered by the fact that race is weighted more heavily than Scholastic Aptitude Test scores in undergraduate admissions. “To me, a perfect SAT says a lot,” he said.