Updated Note on Admissions Policy for the 2006-2007 Year
January 10, 2007
Last November, the Michigan state constitution was amended by voter initiative to include Proposal 2, which precludes state entities, including the University of Michigan, from granting “preferential treatment” to individuals on the basis of their "race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.” After an initial judicial stay Proposal 2 became applicable to the Law School on December 29, 2006. Prior to this date, the Law School admissions office operated under its policy adopted in 1992, which was held constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 2003 decision of Grutter v. Bollinger.
The Law School is committed to a holistic and qualitative admissions review, and emphatically welcomes submissions from all applicants. We urge applicants to continue to provide comprehensive accounts of themselves in their submissions to the admissions office, as we remain interested in our students' life experiences and extracurricular activities, and we continue to value diversity along a wide range of dimensions. We will modify our admissions process, however, so that the factors listed in Proposal 2 will have no effect on decisionmaking. See Letter from President Mary Sue Coleman Regarding Proposal 2.
Proposal 2 explicitly permits compliance with federal laws and funding requirements. Consistent with federal law (implementing 20 U.S.C. ' 1094(a)(17)), we will continue to collect data on the race and sex of our applicants. A staff member will remove the page of the application that contains the applicant’s self-reported race or ethnicity after recording the data, however, so that the information will not be available to the admissions officers who conduct substantive reviews. Moreover, LSDAS will remove all racial data from the reports it provides us.
Several private lawsuits have already been initiated concerning the proper interpretation and validity of Proposal 2. We will carefully monitor developments in the courts, and will take any steps necessary to comply with the law.
Faculty Statement on Admissions
December 4, 2006
The University of Michigan Law School has long understood that enrolling students from a broad spectrum of perspectives and experiences generates a vibrant culture of comprehensive debate and discussion. The Law School fosters interactions among students and faculty on terms of analytical rigor, passion, civility, and respect. The wide-ranging and challenging conversations of our diverse student body, inside and outside the classroom, enrich the quality of our community's intellectual life and enhance the quality of legal education.
One element of the diversity we value is racial diversity, and, to this end, the Law School has taken race into account as one of many admissions criteria. The Supreme Court of the United States has upheld our approach. The Michigan Constitution, however, was recently amended by ballot initiative to include a provision stating that public entities, including the University of Michigan, "shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of . . . public education[.]" The Law School will make whatever changes in its admission practices are necessary to comply. We are, after all, a law school, and we respect the law.
Our commitment to diversity of all kinds remains undiminished. We will, in ways consistent with the law, continue to encourage the broadest range of students to apply to this Law School, and we hope that students from all backgrounds who seek rigor and civility in their legal education will choose Michigan. Most important, we remain committed to ensuring that all students are valued members of our community and contribute to the vitality of the institution. The University of Michigan Law School will continue to be a challenging and collegial environment for all of our students, and one in which all voices are heard.
Dean's Statement on the Passage of Proposal 2
November 17, 2006
To Members of the Michigan Law Family:
As many of you know by now, Michigan’s ballot Proposal 2, also known as the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, has been approved by the electorate and is set to become legally effective in late December. This proposal amends the state constitution to prohibit programs that “grant preferential treatment” to individuals or groups “on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”
The University of Michigan Law School has long emphasized strong indicators of academic ability in assembling an intellectually outstanding student body, including but not limited to Law School Admissions Test scores and undergraduate grade point averages. For many decades Michigan Law has also embraced a deep institutional commitment to diversity in its student body with respect to characteristics such as prior academic training, professional experience, political or ideological perspectives, demonstrated leadership qualities, geographic origin, and socioeconomic status. Our informed judgment is that having a student class composed of intellectually outstanding individuals who collectively represent a broad diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives provides the optimal learning environment in which to train the lawyers we fully expect to be future leaders of the bench, bar, and boardrooms.
As one of many aspects of the diversity we value, our admissions policy has to some degree taken race into account - a policy upheld as legal and fair by the United States Supreme Court in Grutter v. Bollinger. In endorsing our position, the Court agreed that racial diversification of our student body (along with diversification along other lines) improves the quality of the educational experience at the Law School, inside and out of the classroom; enables integration of the leadership of the bar, the bench, government, and the corporate sector; and allows us to graduate a diverse group of superbly prepared professionals who will serve an increasingly diverse nation and world.
While Proposal 2 does not address the legitimacy or desirability of having a racially diverse student body, it does, however, speak to the means by which such diversity may be obtained.
To that point, I would like to make two assurances perfectly clear. First, we will be steadfast in our goal of matriculating an absolutely outstanding student body that is brilliant, energetic, multi-talented, and diverse racially as well as along other dimensions mentioned above. Encouragingly, while the faculty's political perspectives and opinions on Proposal 2 and affirmative action range across the spectrum, they continue to hold the view that diversity, including racial diversity, serves the central missions of the School.
Second, we will faithfully obey the law. Stewards of a public law school owe a clear obligation to observe the laws applicable to it, even as we teach students about their professional obligations as future officers of the court. Therefore, in order to ensure compliance with Proposal 2, we will initially work through a faculty admissions committee to consider our options thoughtfully over the next few weeks and beyond, and we will subsequently make whatever changes are deemed to be necessary.
As you surely know, Michigan Law has a well-deserved reputation among top-ranked law schools for the uniquely collegial environment in which students and faculty come together from all intellectual and ideological perspectives and all walks of life to engage in vibrant and stimulating conversation, without rancor and with mutual respect. We are indeed a welcoming and friendly community, and will always remain so. Given this distinctive culture, I'm confident that, both within the Quad and throughout our family of nearly 20,000 alumni across the globe, conversations about Proposal 2 will follow our proud tradition of addressing important and controversial issues in a civil and collegial manner.