On Tuesday, Michigan voters passed a state referendum banning the use of affirmative action for women and minorities in the state’s public colleges and universities.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, 58 percent of voters supported the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, which will end the consideration of race, ethnicity and gender in admissions and hiring practices. According to a CNN exit poll, 60 percent of men and 47 percent of women said they supported the ban. Fifty-nine percent of white voters and only 14 percent of black voters affirmed it.
Michigan is the third state to vote to ban affirmative action. California passed a similar ballot initiative in 1996, while Washington approved a referendum in 1998.
In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court addressed the controversy over affirmative action at the University of Michigan by upholding the promotion of diversity through affirmative action, but disallowing the allocation of points towards admissions based on race.
Yale College Dean of Admissions Jeff Brenzel said Yale is one of many institutions that make an effort to recruit underrepresented minority students. But Yale does not target a specific number of minority students, so the enrollment proportion varies from year to year, he said.
Jonathan Holloway, professor of African American studies and Calhoun College master, said affirmative action policies have played a significant role in helping women and minorities achieve higher education in the past and are still vitally necessary.
“Affirmative action facilitates diversity, and institutions of higher education should understand that a campus should reflect the kind of diversity that is already reflected in the world,” he said.
University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman has announced that the school will consider taking legal action to question the legitimacy of the ban