At Michigan Law, we view our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion as central to our mission as an educational institution and we seek to ensure that each member of our community has full opportunity to thrive in our environment. We believe that diversity is key to individual flourishing, educational excellence, and the advancement of knowledge and we maintain a deep commitment to fostering a diverse community in which all students, staff, and faculty learn and work in an atmosphere of inclusion and respect.
Diversity is expressed in myriad forms, including race and ethnicity, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, language, culture, national origin, religious commitments, age, (dis)ability status, and political perspective.
We commit to working actively to challenge and respond to bias, harassment, and discrimination, and to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons.
We commit to pursuing deliberate efforts to ensure that our campus is a place where differences are welcome, different perspectives are respectfully heard, and where every individual feels a sense of belonging and inclusion. We know that by building a critical mass of diverse groups on campus and creating a vibrant climate of inclusiveness, we can more effectively leverage the resources of diversity to advance our collective capabilities.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of resources, student organizations, journals, and other offerings and programs that frequently touch upon matters relevant to issues of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Educational Environment Committee (chaired by
Clinical Professor Suellyn Scarnecchia): This faculty committee is appointed by the Dean each year to address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Law School. The committee seeks to provide programming and education aimed at improving the environment of the Law School for everyone. Recent activities include creating rapid programming responses to current issues (pop-up panels), finding ways to create community dialogue on controversial issues, providing easy ways for students to give the faculty feedback about the Law School environment, and leading discussions among the faculty to enhance the inclusiveness of our classrooms. For more information, contact
Michigan Access Program (led by
Director of Student Life Darren Nealy): The
Michigan Access Program seeks to build and support a community of justice leaders within the Law School, teach leadership and conflict resolution skills with an emphasis on intercultural competence, and provide students with opportunities to explore their own thinking, histories, and beliefs around the concepts of social identity and social justice. For more information, contact
Program in Race, Law & History: The
Program in Race, Law & History is an interdisciplinary program dedicated to research and teaching at the intersection of these three lines of intellectual inquiry. The program's work is linked to the broad trends in social and cultural history, exploring how race and law have come together to shape ideas about home, family, marriage, gender, and sexuality.
The Law School's commitment to diversity was evident in the institution's role as defendants in lawsuits challenging the legality of admissions policies. Those lawsuits culminated with the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions
Gratz v. Bollinger and
Grutter v. Bollinger. In
Grutter, the Court upheld the Law School's policy of considering race as an unquantified "plus factor" among other admissions considerations, finding that doing so furthered the School's permissible goal of fostering diversity. In
Gratz, the Court struck down U-M's undergraduate points-based admissions policy.
However, in 2006, Proposal 2 (often referred to as "Prop 2") was put on the November ballot in Michigan. It proposed to amend Michigan's state constitution to ban affirmative action in public higher education admissions. Michigan voters passed Prop 2 by a margin of 58 percent to 42 percent.
The legality of affirmative action in admissions in Michigan had yet another chapter. On November 14, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled 8-7 that Prop 2 was an unconstitutional violation of the 14th Amendment's equal protection guarantee. This case—Schuette v. BAMN—was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and on April 22, 2014, that Court reversed the Sixth Circuit's ruling and affirmed the constitutionality of Prop 2.
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