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University of Michigan officials react to Supreme Court's ruling on affirmative action

Students on campus at the University of Michigan.
Elissa Nadworny
Students on campus at the University of Michigan.

University of Michigan officials say the US Supreme Court decision to eliminate the use of affirmative action in college applications will likely result in less diverse college campuses across the country but won't have much of an impact in this state.

That’s because Michigan voters passed an amendment to the state Constitution in 2006 that prohibits the state’s public universities from considering race in the application process. Since then, U-M has used other factors to try to improve diversity on campus, such as a student’s economic status.

U-M spokesman Rick Fitzgeraldsays that helped some, but the two factors are not interchangeable.

“We’re still far behind where we were before 2006, for example with Black students and Native American students," he said.

Fitzgerald says each university’s admission process is different. But now that race can no longer be a factor, some of U-M’s current policies could help to serve as a model for other schools.

University of Michigan President Santa Ono issued a statement saying they are “deeply disheartened by the court’s ruling,” but adds it won’t affect the school’s values or commitment to diversity or racial equity. Fitzgerald says that’s because the Supreme Court’s decision will have little impact in the state of Michigan.

“Because Michigan voters in 2006 prohibited the use of race in college admissions and other matters through a constitutional amendment," he added.

Fitzgerald says since then, the university has sought to improve diversity on campus through other race-neutral methods instead, such as more support for economically disadvantaged students.

Taylor Pinson is a WEMU news reporter and engineer during WEMU's broadcast of NPR's All Things Considered.
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