The University Record, November 5, 1997

Student groups organize to support affirmative action

Keith Parks (foreground left), a third-year LS&A student, and Diane Nguyen, a first-year law student, moderated the panel at last week's press conference hosted by a coalition of student organizations that support affirmative action. The coalition has been formed as a result of the lawsuit against the University's admissions policies. Photo by Bob Kalmbach

By Jane R. Elgass

A coalition representing 45 student organizations issued a statement at a press conference last Thursday related to the lawsuit filed against the University in October on its admissions practices:

"We support the promotion of diversity and equality through the continued implementation of affirmative action policies at the University of Michigan. We maintain that the lawsuit is without merit. We believe that education is a powerful tool to encour age accurate dialogue. Therefore, we are currently organizing to better educate ourselves and our communities for the defense of this issue in the court of public opinion."

The students are launching a letter-writing campaign and preparing op-ed pieces for newspapers. Several teach-ins have been held in residence halls and more are scheduled, according to the students. In addition, the coalition will be hosting a symposiu m Nov. 17Ð20 at the Michigan Union on the pros and cons of affirmative action and the role that it plays in academic life.

Several of the student representatives at the press conference noted that while they had offers from other schools, one of the reasons they chose to come to the U-M was its diversity and its commitment to diversity.

Several also noted that affirmative action is necessary, that it is "the one thing in place to ensure that the future won't be the same as the past."

The following organizations endorse the statement: African American Programming Task Force; Alianza; American Indian Science & Engineering Society; Asian Pacific American Law Students Association; Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee; Betha Capa Reynolds; Black Law Students Alliance; Black Student Union; Caribbean People's Association; DESI (South Asian Graduate and Professional Student Organization); Free Mumia Coalition/Anti-Racist Action; Graduate Organization of Asian Pacific American Student s; La Voz Mexicana; Latinos/as United for Change; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Commission of the Michigan Student Assembly (MSA); MEChA (Chicano/a Student Movement of Aztlan); Minority Affairs Commission of MSA; Mixed Initiative; Multi-Cultural Nur sing Students Association; Muslim Students Association; NAACP, U-M Chapter; National Lawyers Guild; Native American Law Students Association; Students of Color of Rackham; and the United Asian American Organizations, representing 20 independent organizati ons.