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Updated 4:00 PM July 28, 2003



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Connerly, protesters clash

Photo by Marcia Ledford, U-M Photo Services

Affirmative action foe Ward Connerly is greeted by a crowd mostly made up of opponents to his plan for placing an initiative on the Michigan ballot calling for elimination of racial preferences in hiring and college admissions. One group of students chanted, "Listen, Connerly, we say no. Affirmative action will not go." The students were among the most vocal in the crowd of about 200 people that gathered near the Hatcher Graduate Library July 8. Connerly outlined his plan to place a similar referendum on a Michigan ballot as he had done successfully in California and Washington. The regent from the University of California was responsible for Proposition 209, which ended affirmative action in that state. On the morning of his visit, Michigan Republican Party Chair Betsy DeVos issued a statement in opposition to Connerly's effort. "The Supreme Court wisely affirmed and validated the importance of college admissions based on merit when it struck down the University of Michigan's race-based point system. This was an important step toward color blindness and insuring that we do not divide people by racial categories," DeVos said. "I fear that this proposed ballot initiative would only serve to further divide people along racial lines, which would be entirely counter-productive. What we need now, and what would be best for our state, is to commit ourselves to reducing racial tensions and focus on policy objectives that unite us as Americans."

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