Under the New Affirmative Action Ban, Black Enrollments Are Still Way Down at the University of Michigan: But Its Alumni Association Vows to Offer Race-Based Scholarships

Last November, voters in Michigan overwhelmingly approved Proposal 2 which was also called by the deceptive misnomer, The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative. This initiative made it against the law for the University of Michigan and other state universities to use race as a factor in their admissions process. It also barred these state-operated universities from using race in granting scholarships, hiring faculty and staff, and in contracting awards.

The University of Michigan recently released data on this year’s entering class, the first admitted under the new admissions rules. Black freshman enrollments were up by 1.2 percent this year. But overall first-year enrollments of all races increased by 11 percent. Therefore the percentage of blacks in the entering class declined from 6.1 percent to 5.6 percent. Just two years ago in 2005, there were 443 black freshmen at the University of Michigan. In sum, black freshman enrollments have declined by 25 percent in two years.

The Alumni Association of the University of Michigan is a private, nonprofit organization with no legal ties to the university and therefore is not bound by the provisions of Proposal 2. The association has decided that beginning next fall, it will offer scholarships to entering students with a preference given to blacks and other underrepresented minorities. The association’s endowment will provide the seed money for the program and additional donations will be solicited to boost the overall number of grants that will be awarded.

Opponents of the plan note that the alumni association, while a separate legal entity, operates an alumni center on campus grounds and maintains Web pages on the university’s umich.edu domain.