CMU minority enrollment hits record; admissions office says it has never used affirmative action

More minority students are currently enrolled at Central Michigan University than in the past 10 years.

On-campus minority enrollment hit a record of 2,025 students for the fall 2011 semester, 9.5 percent of the total on-campus population.

In fall 2010, minorities made up 8.7 percent of the on-campus student body.

Although there has been an increase in CMU’s minority enrollment, Director of Admissions Betty Wagner said in an email that CMU has never used affirmative action in the admissions process.

The laws on affirmative action have become murky this year, with a federal appeals court temporarily lifting the state ban in July.

“We work extremely hard to diversify the campus, but race is not a factor considered in the admissions process,” Wagner said.

CMU asks the race of every applicant, since they are mandated to do so by state and federal regulations, Wagner said.

The Office of Civil Rights and Institutional Diversity adopted an equal opportunity and affirmative action protocol in November 1999. The protocol is nearly 8,000 words but contains no mention of admissions.

Under its nondiscrimination policy section, it states: “Central Michigan University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity institution. It encourages diversity and provides equal opportunity in education, employment, all of its programs and the use of its facilities.”

However, Director of OCRID Jeannie Jackson said in an email the affirmative action policy does not apply to admissions.

It was most recently revised on Sept. 20, 2011 and signed by University President George Ross.

“The OCRIE office deals with laws and confidential complaints,” Jackson said. “We do give training classes about recruitment efforts and the sources to reach out to in order to have a diverse pool.”

In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court made affirmative action, or giving racial preference, legal in admissions at public universities. The case was brought forth by the University of Michigan Law School, which won.

At that time, minorities made up only 7.6 percent of the on-campus student body at CMU.

In 2006, voters approved the ban, the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, also known as Proposal 2, by a 58-percent majority. This was an amendment to the Michigan Constitution.

A federal appeals court ruled on July 1 that the amendment was unconstitutional and overturned the ban. They ruled it deprived minorities in Michigan of their 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law.

The ruling only affected states in the Sixth Circuit: Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and Michigan.

On March 14, the full Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati heard the case again. There has not yet been a ruling.

The U.S. Supreme Court also is handling the issue in a case brought by a white student denied admission at the University of Texas at Austin.


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