An Open Letter to Michigan

30 Sep

Dear Michigan,

I know you’re busy. After all, you’re a state. To be honest, I’m busy, too, but I had to write to you when I read the news that the Supreme Court would be hearing the case about your ban on affirmative action in your public universities (http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/25/us-usa-court-affirmative-idUSBRE92O0GM20130325).

First, I wanted to express my empathy. I, like most people, understand your frustration about “preferential treatment” in the admissions process, which is, after all, supposed to accord fair consideration to each and every applicant. When your Attorney General Bill Schuette declared, “Entrance to our great colleges and universities must be based upon merit, and I remain optimistic moving forward in our fight for equality, fairness and rule of law at our nation’s highest court,” I found myself nodding in agreement. For the record, I don’t think anyone is for anti-merit admissions. I mean, come on now.

But I am concerned because, as you know, these things (by which I mean the judicial process of the highest court in the nation) take months. And the question–nay, the opportunity and even the responsibility for fair access to education shouldn’t have to wait any longer. I’m sure you agree.

So, Michigan, I’m writing to ask you to put your admissions process where your litigation is and do something today to free admissions from the policies and practices, written and unwritten, that grant preferential treatment to some groups over others just because of who they are.

What can you do today?

You can end the unfair practice of preferential treatment for legacies.

You can end the unfair practice of preferential treatment for siblings.

You can end the unfair practice of preferential treatment for big donors.

You can end the unfair practice of preferential treatment for athletes.

Because aren’t these discriminatory practices also what you mean, Michigan, when you refer to “preferential treatment”?

(I’m sure you don’t just mean racial preference. Because ignoring, perpetuating and protecting all those other forms of affirmative action while singling out racial affirmative action would be… well, racist.)

But I digress. This is about our shared ideals of equity in admissions. And this is just to say: You don’t have to wait on the Supreme Court, Michigan. You can act for equity today.

And as you do, I, too, “remain optimistic moving forward in our fight for equality, fairness.”

Thanks for reading, Michigan.

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