Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Student groups hope for involvement in U-M affirmative action trials

November 9, 2000

Lauren Brace said although universities should strive to correct past segregation, affirmative action is not the best way to go about accomplishing diversity.

“My problem is in trying to discourage racism and make it go away. They’re causing segregation against whites,” the human biology, political science and pre-law freshman said.

“It’s so hypocritical.”

Members of Multi-Racial Unity Living Experience and By Any Means Necessary, an organization dedicated to the protection of affirmative action programs, hoped to reach out to students such as Brace on Wednesday night.

And the organizations also hoped to motivate others to take action in the upcoming University of Michigan affirmative action trials during the meeting held in Campbell Hall.

District Court Judge Patrick Duggan recently announced that the trial date for Gratz v. Bollinger, Michigan’s undergraduate case, is slated to begin in early December, while the venue would be changed from Ann Arbor to Detroit.

Adam Lerman and Lisa Resch, outreach coordinators for BAMN, talked to students about the necessity of student involvement.

Lerman said moving the trial from its original March 2001 time frame and changing its location makes it less accessible to U-M students because of final exams and having to travel nearly 30 miles to get to the trial court.

He said Duggan’s decision was based on BAMN’s Oct. 19 Day of Action, which drew a crowd of nearly 1,800 protesters - most were high school and college students.

Jeanne Gazel, founder and director of MRULE, said student activism can have a large impact on the pending trial. She said the group has worked to increase awareness about the case at MSU.

“MRULE is very concerned about affirmative action and integration in education,” she said.

“We’re working hard to provide an atmosphere that is welcoming to all students and we’ve been trying to educate the MSU student on the latest news from the U-M cases.”

Lerman and Resch invited students to attend a Nov. 16 summary judgment hearing, where Duggan is expected to make his final decision on the trial’s start date. Resch said having a large student presence at that hearing would send a strong message to Duggan.

“I think we can really impact this judge and let him know that we’re not going to let affirmative action go down in Michigan,” she said. “I think having you there would really send a message to Duggan that he is not going to screw us.”

Resch also called the pending trial “our generation’s Brown v. Board of Education,” referring to the 1954 case that ended federally sanctioned segregation in public schools.

“This case is bound for the Supreme Court and it will determine the future of affirmative action,” she said. “This will open up a period of history where people are struggling for equality.”

Lerman emphasized the importance of voicing opinions about the coming trial, claiming that losing affirmative action programs could also mean the end of groups such as black caucuses and even MRULE and the resurgence of segregation.

“We would go back to where we were 40 to 50 years ago and, in some cases, even worse because the right wing will have been completely emboldened,” he said.

But while he hopes that the trial date and venue will be changed back to the original time and place, Lerman said BAMN is prepared to gather forces in Detroit to make up for any loss of student participation.

“If we can’t get the venue changed, we will be on that Wayne State (University) campus incessantly trying to get students to participate,” he said.

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