Affirmative action enabled at Ferris

Upheaval of Proposal 2 by a federal court will allow Ferris to implement program

Federal courts recently over-ruled a Michigan proposal which excluded Affirmative Action policies in education.

Marc Sheehan, a communications officer for Ferris State University, said, “We plan to be consistent with our efforts regardless of the ultimate fate of Proposal Two.”

Proposal 2, a Michigan Legislature, was voted upon and passed in 2006. The state’s constitutional amendment was deemed unconstitutional as it “re-orders the political process in Michigan to place special burdens on minority interests,” according to a statement by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Ferris State University’s Expect Diversity 2009 publication shows the university maintains a demographic of 80 percent Caucasian, 7 percent African American, and 2 percent Hispanic population.

The numerical data is comparable with other Michigan universities such as Michigan State and the University of Michigan during the same time period.

Sheehan re-iterated the university’s commitment to achieving a diverse student body regardless of any legal recourse. In conjunction, Ferris has expanded its Latino studies program and expanded the Jim Crow Museum, located in the FLITE complex, to help achieve a multi-cultural community.

In a recent press release by Ferris, the school has increased diversity enrollment by 40 percent over the past school year.

Proposal 2 also had significance in the application of Affirmative Action in workplace hiring procedures as well.

Byron Williams, president of Ferris State University Student Government, said, “Ultimately, I believe that it is a good thing, and that it serves a purpose of righting the wrong and the effects of past discrimination, slavery and racist acts.”

The Affirmative Action policy was initially enforced by President Lyndon Johnson in an attempt to readdress discrimination in education and the work place.

The issue of Affirmative Action has been debated and questioned in courtrooms around the U.S. since its inception.

In 2003, federal courts upheld the University of Michigan’s ability to use race as a factor for admission in its law school program, but overruled a numerical system in the university’s undergraduate programs.

Serious concerns arose shortly after the policy’s inauguration in another federal decision involving a college student against the University of California.

Allan Bakke, a prospective student, claimed that he was denied admission over other students with lesser credentials on the basis of racial quotas. The university held a policy to include a 16 percent minority population.

The courts in these specific cases concluded that race can be a factor in admission policies but quotas were not permissible.

According to Williams, this debated policy also serves to “level the playing field and allows those who are just as qualified to be considered and offered positions.”