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Updated 1:00 PM June 24, 2003



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Students celebrate 'Unity, diversity, a better university'

Sporting blue T-shirts emblazoned with the word "Justice" through U-M's iconic block M, members from the groups Students Supporting Affirmative Action and Students of Color of Rackham celebrated the June 23 Supreme Court decisions that will continue the consideration of race in U-M's admissions policies.

Chanting "Unity, diversity, a better university," the students formed a colorful backdrop for a Diag press conference featuring student leaders. Calling it a victory for the University and the entire nation, the speakers celebrated the upholding of the 1978 Bakke decision and of affirmative action.
Cedric de Leon, a graduate student instructor in sociology and a member of SSAA, leads students in cheers of "Unity, diversity, a better university" and a chorus of "The Victors" June 23. Students gathered on the Diag for a press conference in celebration of U-M's victory at the Supreme Court. (Photo by Marcia Ledford, U-M Photo Services)

"It is a great victory because it tells us that our nation and our Supreme Court still understand how important it is that race is still a factor," said Angela Galardi, Michigan Student Assembly (MSA) president. "We are fortunate to be part of a university that values diversity. It is a great day for our university, our students and our country."

MSA Vice President Monique Perry said she is proud to represent the U-M student body during such a historical moment. "I was doing cartwheels," said Perry, a senior in LSA. "This victory was not just for the University of Michigan; it is a victory for the United States of America."

The Supreme Court's decision in Gratz struck down the University's use of its undergraduate admissions points system. Many students said they are confident U-M will continue to build the best and most diverse student body possible.

"The University has said all along that it is going to maintain its commitment to diversity, so I am confident it will find new ways to do that," said Rahul Saksena, a senior in LSA and member of the Indian American Student Association. "It has been a wild ride from the beginning, and it has ended in a positive way, thankfully."

"We must never lose sight of the sacrifices that were made to bring us to this point," said Brandy Johnson, a recent Law School graduate. "We owe this to ourselves, our ancestors, and our brothers and sisters coming behind us."
"It is a victory for the United States of America." —Monique Perry, MSA vice president

The events of the day led to a victory chant on the steps of the Michigan Union by members of the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action & Integration and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN). Focusing on the ruling in the Law School case, they repeated, "5-4 victory, the BAMN is making history."

"This is a tremendous victory," said Agnes Aleobua, a BAMN organizer and U-M student who was one of the student intervenors in the cases. "We'll keep fighting and keep moving forward."

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