On November 15th the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Proposition 2 unconstitutional in the case brought by BAMN (The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary) against Michigan’s Proposal 2, which banned the use of affirmative action in college admissions in 2006. The Court struck down Proposal 2, based on BAMN’s argument that it violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. This is a great victory for BAMN, and for the new civil rights and immigrant rights movement; now we must take this victory and run with it in order to make it real.
Double Underrepresented Minority Student Enrollment for 2013-2014!
The University of Michigan administration is already dragging their feet, claiming that they should proceed “cautiously” even though the University of Michigan Law School affirmative action plan was thoroughly vetted and approved by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 in Grutter v Bollinger. Students must act now to ensure that the University acts at all.
BAMN is launching a statewide campaign demanding that:
1. The University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, and all of Michigan’s universities act immediately on the Sixth Circuit decision and reinstate their affirmative action policies in this admissions cycle, and
2. Michigan’s universities create Dream Scholarships, offer full access to financial aid and in-state tuition to undocumented students.
We cannot let another year go by in which thousands of highly-qualified black, Latina/o and Native American, and undocumented students are kept out of our state’s top universities by discriminatory admissions policies.
The ban on affirmative action has led to a drastic drop in black, Latina/o and Native American students at Michigan’s universities. At the University of Michigan, there has been a one-third drop in underrepresented minority students in undergraduate admissions, and a drop of half in Law, Medicine and other graduate programs. The drop in minority enrollment has created an increasingly racially-hostile climate. This has a chilling effect on the entire campus, leading to more sexism, sexual assault and anti-gay bigotry, and stifling the ability of minority, immigrant, and LGBT, and women students to be ourselves, contribute to, and benefit from the academic and social life of the campus.
Create Campus-Based Dream Scholarships, full Access to Financial Aid & In-state Tuition for Undocumented Students!
Undocumented students face another barrier that makes attending the University of Michigan virtually impossible. They are denied access to federal and state financial aid, and are charged international tuition rates if they want to attend the University. Michigan’s Latina/o, Arab and other immigrant communities are becoming an increasingly powerful and determinative force for political and social progress. But the undocumented young people of those communities are denied access to their own state’s public universities. This separate and unequal policy is not only squandering the vast potential of many of Michigan’s brightest students; it’s denying our growing immigrant communities the political right to be represented at our leading public institutions.
Our victory for affirmative action can greatly advance the movement to end this discriminatory policy and win the Dream Act.
The University has absolutely no excuse not to reinstate affirmative action right away and open its doors to black, Latina/o and Native American students who are applying right now. But we know from history that a court decision is not enough to break down institutionally racist practices. The U.S. Supreme Court decision struck down school segregation in Brown v Board, but it took Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. building the Civil Rights Movement through direct student action, to desegregate the schools. The University of Michigan administration also will not act without a student movement demanding equality now.
Build the New Civil Rights/Immigrant Rights Movement!
The student movement made the University of Michigan a standard-bearer for integration and equality, and it will take a student movement to restore affirmative action and win new gains. The Black Action Movement strike that shut down the campus in 1970 won affirmative action at U of M and paved the way for affirmative action to be instituted at every public university in this nation, opening the doors of higher education to substantial numbers of black, Latina/o and Native American students for the first time. Affirmative Action plans are desegregation programs for higher education, based on the driving principle of the civil rights movement that the only way to defeat institutional racism and all other socially created inequalities is to implement conscious public policies to counter the inequalities.
In 1997, when affirmative action came under attack in Michigan in Grutter v. Bollinger, BAMN organized an intervention in the case by students as co-defendants with the University, and presented our own independent legal case based on the unequivocal truth that black, Latina/o and other minority students are the peers and equals of their white counterparts, and have the right to obtain equal access to all our universities. We mobilized 50,000 students to march on Washington the day the Supreme Court heard the case in 2003 and we won because of that mobilization.
Last year BAMN led occupations at UC Berkeley and UCLA demanding a doubling of minority student enrollment, along with a public campaign appealing the rejection of minority students by the University of California, students who are more than qualified even by the university’s biased criteria. We won more than a dozen appeals, and we intend to make the same fight here in Michigan.
This fight is not just about numbers, but about who will get the opportunity to be leaders at our leading public universities. Latina/o and black students have been at the forefront in the recent struggles to defend public education in California, which won the California Dream Act last year. Increasing the number of black, Latina/o, other minority and undocumented students on our campus will provide the leadership needed to defend public education and to once again make our campus a center for progress and critical thinking.
This fight cannot wait. We must act now to defend our victory and use it to make real gains, and not allow the University to turn our victory into a defeat by refusing to implement it. If we fight, as Dr. King said, with the “fierce urgency of now,” and take full advantage of this window of opportunity, we can win more than we ever imagined we could.
BAMN is a mass, democratic, integrated, national organization dedicated to building a new mass civil rights movement to defend affirmative action,integration, and the other gains of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and to advance the struggle for equality in American society by any means necessary.