SEARCH BLOG: UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
I've written several times about how UM keeps trying to be diverse racially, but doesn't address the fundamental issue of student preparation for college.
Yesterday, the Detroit area papers had articles about UM's new approach: financial aid. Okay, that's a legitimate approach, I guess, depending upon what they actually do. Low income students usually need aid, whether in the form of loans or grants... unless they do as many of the older generation did... work, save, attend lower-priced undergraduate schools, work more, attend better graduate schools.
As The Detroit News reports:
Alan Foutz, attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, which has been closely watching compliance of Proposal 2 in Michigan, said that while U-M's prescription for more outreach doesn't violate Proposal 2 on its face, it will ultimately come down to implementation.It's a fine line that UM is walking here. Granting economic aid to low-income students who are academically qualified is an approach I have proposed. If blacks and Hispanic make up the largest group of qualified low-income admissions, then aid should be proportional. But, to target a much large portion of aid to blacks and Hispanic admissions than based on a Proposal 2-based admissions process may be in violation of the letter and intent of the law.
"It doesn't appear to me that they are going to be charging off in a completely inappropriate direction," Foutz said. Potential violations would occur if U-M is "using a type of outreach effort to a particular racial category but not using that type of outreach effort for any other racial category."
U-M officials say they have outreach programs for all students but believe their targeted efforts toward black, Latino and American Indian students are allowable under the law.
"It's our legal interpretation of Proposal 2 the language does not prohibit us from doing targeted outreach," U-M spokeswoman Julie Peterson said. "The conclusion that other states have reached has varied. These things are a matter of interpretation. ... But we are pretty comfortable at this point that that's the right way to go. And it's essential."
What are some of the other options? UM can work with private donors... individuals and corporations... that are willing to establish needs-based or merit-based scholarships to specific ethinic groups. This is permissable as I pointed out previously in the example of what Wayne State University in Detroit showed on its website.But UM is still dancing around the central issue: it needs to focus its resources on working with Detroit schools to improve the academic performance that system's students who are largely black or Hispanic to increase the number of available qualifying students. This is not accomplished by cherry-picking the low-income black and Hispanic students who happen to qualify under Proposal 2.