NMU Studies Impact of Proposal 2 Outcome
The measure approved by Michigan voters that bans affirmative action programs in education and other areas is scheduled to go into effect Dec. 22. NMU plans to make productive use of the next 40 days assessing the full reach of the amendment and its potential impact on university programs. President Les Wong is directing a task force to address the issue.
“One thing I can say with certainty right now is that Northern remains fully committed to diversity and inclusiveness to the full extent of the law,” Wong said.
The language of the actual amendment will differ from the wording on the ballot proposal. It reads: “The University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University and any other public college or university, community college or school district shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting.”
Cathy Dehlin (University Counsel) said Northern already has a non-discrimination policy in place and will continue to comply with that, as well as state and federal anti-discrimination laws, after Dec. 22.
The amendment language also includes a caveat that universities are not prohibited from “action that must be taken to establish or maintain eligibility for any federal program if ineligibility would result in a loss of federal funds to the state.” Dehlin said part of Northern’s analysis will be to ensure that the university does not lose federal funding.
“We want to preserve the programs we can within the bounds of the law,” she added. “I will be closely monitoring legal challenges to the constitutionality of Proposal 2. I also plan to work with my colleagues in California and Washington State who’ve gone through this and get their guidance on how they handled it. We have a lot to figure out in the relatively short period of time before the amendment takes effect.”
According to a Nov. 8 report by the Associated Press, the amendment was already being challenged in court less than 24 hours after its approval by Any Means Necessary, the group that unsuccessfully tried to prevent the measure from appearing on the ballot. The article also reported that University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman told a crowd gathered on campus that she would consider legal options to preserve and enhance diversity at the school.