Michigan votes down affirmative action

Michigan voters banned affirmative action on Nov. 7, but AU continues to use affirmative action to diversify its campus.

With a 58 percent majority in favor of the proposal, called Michigan's Civil Rights Initiative, Michigan now does not consider the affirmative action policy for admission in state institutions, according to The Chronicle for Higher Education.

Sharon Alston, AU's director of admission, said she thinks diversity is an important aspect of campus life.

"I think [Michigan's affirmative action ban is] unfortunate and it should challenge all of us to be more aggressive about touting the benefits of diversity and having research to support those views as well," she said in an e-mail. "Diversity is a fundamental part of the fabric of American University. I believe that we will always work to find ways to be sure that we are inclusive and diverse."

Regardless of race or origin, affirmative action does not consider the financial aspect of an individual.

Katherine Brodhead, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, said low-income students cannot afford college preparatory schools, numerous Advanced Placement tests, multiple SATs or other resources.

Tim Hoagland, a freshman in CAS, said, "[Affirmative action] is not as relevant as it's made out to be because it doesn't give equal opportunities to all minorities because of socio-economic status, location, etc."

Alston said inequities remain in the nation's educational system in terms of funding.

"...I believe that [postsecondary and K-12 educational systems] must work together to ensure that we are taking steps to be sure that students are given a fair chance to improve their circumstances via higher education," Alston said in an e-mail.

However, AU tries to consider all aspects, including those that are not considered in the affirmative action policy to devise a diverse campus, she said.

"As a values-based institution, American University has a long-standing tradition which has emphasized commitments to such values as human rights and dignity, social justice, individual freedom and diversity," she said. "This means extending educational opportunity to all qualified students regardless of race, ethnicity or other circumstances. Consequently, we strive to ensure that we have a community that is diverse in all aspects."

So far, there are only three states, including Michigan, that have banned affirmative action, according to The Chronicle. The District of Columbia has not taken such actions into consideration.

"I don't think AU should ever go against affirmative action because I think they have [legitimate] interest in preserving a diverse environment," said Steve Morris, a staff member in the School of International Service.

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