Big Week for Affirmative Action

Michigan voters this week passed an amendment to the state constitution to "ban public institutions from using affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on their race, gender, color, ethnicity or national origin for public employment, education or contracting purposes." The amendment comes in the wake of the Supreme Court decisions on affirmative action at the University of Michigan. The Court's opinions about admissions practices at the University of Michigan Law School in particular make for fascinating reading, as does the district court's opinion. Opponents of the amendment are now challenging it in court.

On another note: In this weekend's Wall Street Journal, Dan Golden continues his efforts on the college admissions beat in an article called "Is Admissions Bar Higher for Asians at Elite Schools?" Interesting tidbits:

  • In 2005, of applicants with a 3.2 GPA and a 1240 SAT score (on the old 1600 point scale), the University of Michigan admitted 10% of Asian-Americans, 14% of whites, 88% of Hispanics, and 92% of blacks, according to a study by the Center for Equal Opportunity. A spokeswoman for the school said she "utterly reject[s] the conclusion" that the university discriminates against Asian-Americans.
  • The Asian-American student who currently is suing Princeton for discriminating against Asian-American applicants seeks to suspend federal funding to the university until it ends not just racial preferences, but also legacy preferences and athlete preferences.
  • In 1990, a federal investigation concluded that Harvard was admitting Asian-American applicants at a lower rate than white applicants despite slightly stronger test scores and grades.
  • In 1992, the federal government pressured Boalt Hall (Berkeley's law school) to end a policy
    that put a cap on Asian-American enrollment by comparing Asian-American applicants only against each other rather than the whole pool (a practice that used to be applied against Jewish students at elite American universities — see The Chosen by Jerome Karabel for more on that).