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Frequently Asked Questions about
the Proposed "Michigan Civil Rights Initiative"


Updated May 9, 2006


WHAT DOES THIS BALLOT PROPOSAL SEEK TO DO?

  • The ballot proposal titled the “Michigan Civil Rights Initiative” would add a new section to Michigan’s Constitution, making it illegal for the state and its universities to discriminate against, or give preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, gender, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

  • The language of the proposed amendment to the Michigan Constitution is nearly identical to that of California’s Proposition 209, with the minor exception that the Michigan proposal expressly states that any public college, university, or community college may not discriminate, or give preferential treatment, on the basis of race, gender, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the fields of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

HOW WOULD THE COURTS INTERPRET THE PROPOSED AMENDMENT IN MICHIGAN?

  • Although the application of the proposed amendment has not yet been tested in Michigan courts, its language is very similar to California’s Proposition 209, which was interpreted broadly by the courts in California. This means that programs that take race or gender into account, even if consistent with existing constitutional law, could be outlawed by this proposed amendment to the Michigan constitution.

  • Existing federal and state constitutional provisions guarantee equal protection under the law to all citizens. The U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted current constitutional law as giving states the right to consider race, under narrowly tailored circumstances, in taking voluntary action to pursue compelling interests such as the educational benefits of a diverse student body.

  • In order for a ballot proposal to have any meaning, it must be construed to go beyond the reach of current laws. Therefore, the proposed constitutional amendment could be interpreted so as to remove the race- and gender-conscious tools the U.S. Supreme Court currently permits the University to use in order to pursue the educational benefits of a diverse student body.

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WHAT PROGRAMS IN HIGHER EDUCATION COULD BE AFFECTED BY THE PROPOSED AMENDMENT?

In addition to admissions, many programs could be affected by the passage of the ballot proposal. Michigan’s public universities and colleges would no longer be allowed to exercise their ability (as recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court) to consider race, ethnicity, and gender in several contexts. The following general areas and specific programs represent the several segments of higher education in Michigan that could be affected by the proposal.

Impact in General Areas

  • Financial Aid: Diversity scholarships that consider race, gender, national origin, ethnicity or color would be at risk. Financial aid programs help to recruit and retain a diverse student body, and are one tool that many universities use to attract underrepresented students to campus. The University of Michigan uses race-conscious scholarships, many of which are privately funded, to help attract a diverse student body. These private scholarships could also potentially be affected by passage of the ballot proposal to the extent that the University administers them. The elimination of such scholarships could limit the overall pool of financial aid resources available to University students, because many donors give money with the expectation of pursuing certain types of goals that are within the bounds of current law. This potential loss of financial aid funds comes at a time when the state is cutting general revenue funding for all universities.

  • Diversity in Housing: Diversity positions and programming, such as international houses used to give students the experience of living in a diverse environment, would potentially be affected by the passage of the ballot proposal.

  • Faculty Recruitment and Employment: While, technically speaking, § 4 of the ballot proposal would allow a state recipient to continue to take any action required to retain eligibility for federal funds and/or to comply with all federal mandates, the passage of the ballot proposal could make it harder to attract and retain top-notch faculty. Potential faculty members, including women and minorities, as well as international faculty, may choose positions at universities that appear to be more committed to and supportive of diversity.

  • Private Foundation Grants: Many national foundations use diversity as a tool in determining grants or have certain diversity requirements that an institution must meet in order to receive grants. The Kellogg Foundation, for example, has historically evaluated the diversity efforts of grant applicants and has denied funding to applicants that did not demonstrate results in diversity efforts.

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Impact on Specific Statewide Programs

Many statewide outreach, recruitment, retention, and academic support programs could be affected by the passage of the ballot proposal. Here are some examples:

  • The College Day Program invites 6th-11th graders from schools with the greatest numbers of African American, Native American, and Latino populations to visit college and university campuses.

  • The Select Student Support Services Program provides monetary incentives to universities that develop minority retention programs.

  • The Morris Hood Jr. Educator Development Program offers grants to universities that are focused on increasing the number of minority students in K-12 teaching programs.

  • The Michigan/College University Partnership Program attempts to smooth the transition of minority students from community colleges to baccalaureate programs.

  • The Future Faculty Fellowship Program is aimed at increasing the number of minority teachers, and particularly targets those who will become instructors at a post-secondary education level.

  • The Visiting Professors Program was enacted to increase the number of minority faculty members at Michigan universities.

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Impact on Specific Programs at the University of Michigan

Several outreach, recruitment, retention, and academic support programs at the University of Michigan could be affected by the passage of the ballot proposal. Here are some examples:

WOMEN IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING
Women and men enter the University of Michigan with similar backgrounds in mathematics and science, yet far fewer women then men graduate with majors in several engineering and science disciplines. The Women in Science and Engineering Program (WISE) offers many programs in support of women and girls in those disciplines.

The WISE network of vital academic services to women and girls is nationally recognized as a model for other programs. The program has received several awards, including the U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring in 2000 and, along with U-M's Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, the National Science Foundation Recognition Award for the Integration of Research and Teaching — (RAIRE) in 1997.

WISE Pre-College Programs:

  • Future Science : Future Engineering: For girls who are currently in the seventh or eighth grade, WISE offers Future Science : Future Engineering, a one-week day-program that includes hands-on laboratory experimentation, computer simulation activities, and introductions to on-line network systems. Participants can explore the world of ultra-fast optics, learn what DNA reveals, experiment with chemical compounds, build and launch a rocket, unlock the secrets of the universe through physics, and more. They also meet women scientists and engineers, learn about careers of the future, and have fun exploring the U-M campus.

  • Grace Hopper Project: The Grace Hopper Project is a one-week day-program for girls who are completing the ninth, tenth, or eleventh grade. Hopper participants explore computer technology and develop practical computer skills through hands-on experience in advanced multimedia design and development, dynamic web programming, computer-assisted virtual environments, and both hardware and software life cycle management from initial conception/design to operation/support.

  • Sally Ride Science Festival: The one-day event brings approximately 1,000 girls and their parents for hands-on projects and a chance to meet Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman astronaut.

WISE Undergraduate Programs:

  • Marian Sarah Parker Scholars Program: The Marian Sarah Parker Scholars Program encourages and supports women in the career/graduate school decision-making process. The program identifies and encourages high-achieving women who are in their junior year of college to consider pursuing graduate degrees in engineering. MSP Scholars participate in workshops and an academic internship with a member of the College of Engineering faculty.

  • WISE Residential Program: The WISE Residential Program is a living-learning experience for freshmen and sophomore women majoring in science, engineering, or mathematics. Located in Mosher-Jordan Residence Hall, the program provides networks, study groups, dedicated sections of first-year classes, mentoring, and support. This program was honored by the National Science Foundation with a Recognition Award for the Integration of Research and Education (RAIRE).

  • Workshops and Lectures: The WISE Program provides a variety of career and professional development workshops for undergraduate students. In addition, the program provides support for women departmental seminar speakers, providing lectures of cutting-edge research with excellent role models for all our students.

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UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH OPPORTUNITY PROGRAM
The Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) creates research partnerships between first- and second-year students and University of Michigan faculty in all U-M schools and colleges. Begun in 1989 with 14 student/faculty partnerships, the program now serves nearly 1,000 students and more than 600 faculty researchers. Additional UROP activities include academic support services from peer advising to career planning and learning skills workshops (i.e., webpage design, SPSS, PowerPoint, library research, abstract writing and time management).

UROP has developed into a model program for undergraduate education, recognized nationally for its achievement in improving minority retention and for its enhancement of undergraduate education. Major honors include the 1999 U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring; the 1997 National Science Foundation Recognition Award for the Integration of Research and Teaching — (RAIRE) (shared recognition with U-M's WISE Program); and the 1996 Theodore M. Hesburgh Award, Certificate of Excellence for Faculty Development to Enhance Undergraduate Teaching.

UROP was one of several initiatives created to improve the retention and academic achievement of underrepresented students. Today the program is open to both minority and majority students while maintaining its original emphasis on underrepresented minority students and women in the sciences. For more information, see http://www.umich.edu/~UROP/

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THE CENTER FOR THE EDUCATION OF WOMEN
The Center for the Education of Women, a unit of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, has a unique history. CEW was established in 1964 through the joint efforts of U-M alumnae and the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Originally called the Center for Continuing Education of Women, it was the nation's first comprehensive, university-based women's center of its kind. From the beginning, the Center has had a commitment to helping women further their educational and employment goals, and has also focused on research and advocacy for women. The name of the center was changed in 1989 to the Center for the Education of Women, reflecting more accurately CEW's three-part mission of service, advocacy and research for women.

CEW offers free counseling, typically related to education, employment, and life transitions to U-M faculty, staff, and students, as well as to the general public. In addition, the Center offers a full schedule of programs, workshops, lectures and research presentations. Topics include career choice, searching for jobs, returning to school, and work/life/family issues. The Center's "critical difference" grants assist UM graduate and nontraditional undergraduate students facing financial emergencies. CEW has always had an "open door" policy, and its services are available to men as well as women.

Since 1964, much of CEW's budget has come from the University's general fund. However, private gifts and grants from government sources, foundations, and corporations fund many of CEW's programs and all CEW scholarships, which were first awarded in 1970. The Center's privately-funded scholarships benefit women students on the Ann Arbor, Flint, or Dearborn campuses who are completing their education after a substantial interruption.

CEW conducts research on barriers to women's achievement, as well as on opportunities and accomplishments. For example, the Women's Leadership Index, produced in conjunction with the Women's Economic Club and the Women's Leadership Forum examines the presence of women among top executive leaders and boards of trustees of Michigan corporations. Other recent CEW research has focused on the experiences of women and men in business schools, and on access to higher education for low-income women.

The Center supports the U-M President's Advisory Commission on Women's Issues, as well as professional networks for junior women faculty and for women of color faculty and staff.

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PIPELINE PROGRAMS IN HEALTH PROFESSIONS
[MEDICINE, BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH, AND DENTISTRY]
The University of Michigan Medical School conducts three "pipeline" programs, each of which works with a specific segment of the school-age population. The School of Dentistry conducts two "pipeline" programs, one in collaboration with the Medical School. The programs' overall goals are to expose youth to health care fields and to prompt those who are both academically competent and highly motivated to consider careers in the health professions.

Initially conceived as a means to help eradicate health care disparities among chronically underserved populations by improving recruitment of underrepresented students, the Medical School programs are open to both minority and majority students while maintaining their original emphasis on underrepresented students and women in medicine.

The Dental School programs also have as their ultimate goal increasing the participation of students committed to eliminating health disparities among currently underserved racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic populations. The programs are open to students who are interested in working to eliminate health disparities as noted above, and who have expressed an interest in dentistry or related health care professions, including students from populations underrepresented in the health professions or from disadvantaged backgrounds.

University of Michigan Medical School (UMMS)

  • Health Occupations Partners in Education (HOPE): HOPE is a multi-faceted educational partnership designed to support Ypsilanti, Michigan, public school students in grades sixth through twelve. The overall goal is to facilitate successful progression of students along the health professions pipeline. Specifically, HOPE aims to increase interest in health science careers and to improve academic achievement among students who are underrepresented in the health science professions. HOPE students participate in a variety of activities designed to provide academic support, educational enrichment, college preparation and career exploration opportunities, including after-school tutoring, job shadowing, field trips, research internships, and college preparation workshops.

  • Summer Science Academy (SSA): The goal of this pipeline program is to increase the number of underrepresented and disadvantaged students in the field of medicine and other health professions. The program brings together 50 tenth- and eleventh-grade high school students from throughout Michigan to experience campus and medical school life. They spend two weeks in a dormitory, attend classes that focus on biomedical and health care topics from 8a.m. to 5p.m., and, in the evenings, participate in events highlighting cultural diversity, self-development, and the arts.

  • Summer Opportunities for Apprenticeships in Research Program (SOAR): Summer Opportunities for Apprenticeships in Research Program provides an opportunity for high school and undergraduate students to explore potential careers in medicine or biomedical research by working in a research lab or in a clinical setting. The overall goal of this program is to introduce students to and familiarize them with careers in biomedical research and the health professions. Another objective is to increase the number of underrepresented and disadvantaged students in biomedical research and/or health professions. The participating students' research topics can range from high-tech computerized brain imaging to biostatistical analysis. Clinics are in the pediatric, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and primary care fields. Research areas are in pathology, internal medicine, anatomy, physical medicine and rehabilitation, pharmacology, and pediatrics. Each year, as many as 16 students are selected to participate in this full-time health-related research and/or clinical summer experience. All SOAR students have previously participated in the Medical School's Summer Science Academy (SSA), the HOPE Program, or another Medical School Diversity & Career Development youth program.

School of Dentistry

  • Pipeline Program in Dentistry and Medicine: Pipeline is a six-week residential program at the University of Michigan designed to enhance science aptitude, improve academic skills, and facilitate continued academic success in undergraduate school. The program includes shortened course reviews of general biology, organic chemistry, and physics; academic skill building workshops in learning styles, reading comprehension, time management, note taking, test preparation, and test taking skills; hands-on experience through pre-clinical exercises including dental anatomy, cavity preparation, impression taking, clinic observations, and waxing models; mentoring assignments with current Michigan dental and medical students; presentations by currently practicing dental and medical professionals; and information on dental and medical school admissions procedures. This program was established in 1998 to increase the competitiveness of students as applicants to dental and medical schools throughout the country by strengthening participants' academic skills, especially in the basic sciences. The program is open to all qualified college freshmen and sophomores who have expressed an interest in the health care professions and who are interested in working to eliminate health disparities among currently underserved racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic populations, or are from an economically disadvantaged background, or are from an ethnic population underrepresented in the health professions, or otherwise come from an environment that has inhibited them from obtaining the knowledge, skills, and abilities to succeed in a health professions school.

  • Profile for Success [Dentistry]: Profile for Success is a six-week residential program at the University of Michigan designed to develop competitive applicants, ensure success on the Dental Admission Test (DAT), and increase students' understanding of career options within dentistry. The program includes DAT preparation classes; discussions with dentists who describe their work in periodontics, orthodontics, public health dentistry, etc.; hands-on experience in the preclinical laboratory in dental anatomy, cavity preparation, impression taking, forming dental casts and waxing; mentoring with current Michigan dental students; and information on dental school admissions procedures. Profile for Success was launched in 1994 to help meet a critical need in dentistry. The program is open to all qualified college juniors, seniors, and recent graduates who have expressed an interest in dentistry and who are interested in working to eliminate health disparities among currently underserved racial, ethnic and socioeconomic populations, or are from an economically disadvantaged background, or are from an ethnic population underrepresented in the health professions, or otherwise come from an environment that has inhibited them from obtaining the knowledge, skills, and abilities to succeed in a health professions school.

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HEALTH MANAGEMENT AND POLICY SUMMER ENRICHMENT PROGRAM
[Public Health]
The Health Management and Policy Summer Enrichment Program (SEP) encourages students entering their junior or senior years of college to consider health management and policy as an attractive career option through which they can address health disparities. The program seeks to familiarize students with the field through a structured summer work experience. The ultimate goal is to increase participation of students committed to eliminating health disparities among currently underserved racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic populations.

SEP participants hold an eight-week paid summer work experience under the direction of a health organization or policy professional in a hospital or other health organization in the Detroit/Ann Arbor and Flint areas. They participate in a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) preparation course, and have weekly meetings and site visits to health organizations other than the ones in which they are working.

SEP serves qualified students who are members of a population that is adversely affected by racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic disparities in health; live in communities or areas, both urban and rural, that are adversely affected by health disparities; have experience working in programs that address health disparities; have done previous academic work related to health disparities; and/or who show other evidence of serious commitment to a public health career involving the reduction or elimination of health disparities.

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PIPELINE PROGRAMS IN BUSINESS
In partnership with consortiums of some of America’s top corporations and business schools, the University of Michigan Ross School of Business is involved in a number of “pipeline” programs and outreach programs, whose overall goals are to expose underrepresented youth to the professional and academic business world and to encourage them to consider undergraduate and graduate business studies and business careers. Here is an example of such a program:

  • Forté Foundation: The Forté Foundation is a national consortium of major corporations, top business schools, and influential nonprofit organizations that, in only a few years, has become a powerful change agent, pumping talented women through educational gateways and hiring pipelines towards leadership roles in business. The overall goal of Forté is to increase the number of women business leaders by increasing the flow of women into key educational gateways, like MBA programs and business networks. Currently, enrollment of women in America’s top business schools averages around 30 percent, which is far below comparable figures in other professional careers, such as medicine and law.

    Forté initiatives at the University of Michigan include three to four two-year scholarships awarded annually, and local, regional, and national mentoring and networking activities. U-M also participates in eight Forté Forums that are staged annually around the country to help women learn more about the opportunities of an MBA degree and a career in business. In its first few years, Forté member schools and companies have focused on the needs of pre-MBA students—how to better attract them to top MBA programs, opportunities in business, etc. Plans are actively underway to extend Forté's programming to current MBA students via the Scholars program, to high school students, to U-M alumnae, and to women interested in returning to work and/or school following career sabbaticals, i.e., child-rearing. The University of Michigan Ross School of Business is a founding member of the Forté Foundation, having initiated its creation following the Catalyst-U-M study of 2000, which evaluated academic and career satisfaction among professional women in the field and made recommendations for improvements.

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