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GM Files Brief in Support of U of M in Affirmative Action Lawsuits

For Release: July 17, 2000

DETROIT, MI -- General Motors Corporation today filed a legal brief in support of the University of Michigan as it battles two lawsuits attacking the school's use of affirmative action policies in student admissions.

The brief, filed in the United States District Court, asserts that General Motors stands behind the U of M's efforts to ensure that the university has a diverse student body that is truly reflective of the United States and the world at large and is inclusive rather than exclusive.

According to the brief, GM's interest in the case is substantial, noting that the company employs a large number of graduates from the university, especially from the business and engineering schools.

The brief states that "In General Motors' view, only a well-educated, highly-diverse workforce, comprised of people who have learned to work productively and creatively with individuals from a multitude of races and ethnic, religious, and cultural histories, can maintain America's global competitiveness in the increasingly diverse and interconnected world economy."

Explaining why the Corporation is supporting the university, Harry J. Pearce, GM vice-chairman, said, "In doing research on whether GM should involve itself in this lawsuit, we have been impressed with a growing body of research that concludes that college students who experience the most racial and ethnic diversity in classrooms and during interactions on campus become better learners and more effective citizens. Those are exactly the types of persons we want running our global business - - better learners and more effective citizens."

"We call upon others in corporate America who share our concerns to step forward and articulate their position," Pearce added.

The GM brief cites two key arguments in support of the U of M's affirmative action policies: Consideration of race in university admissions furthers a compelling interest in educating students and training them to function in the global marketplaces. Elimination of affirmative action in leading educational institutions would deprive businesses of the well-trained minority candidates who are essential to our nation's economic success.

The lawsuits, filed in 1997 on behalf of three white students who were denied admission to the U of M, claim the university unconstitutionally uses race as a factor in admissions to the undergraduate College of Literature, Science and the Arts and to the university's Law School. The undergraduate suit is expected to go to trial in September or October. The Law School case is scheduled for trial in January 2001.

Contact(s): Edd Snyder (GM)
(313) 665-4266

Julie Peterson (U of M)
(734) 936-5190

Download brief in support of the University of Michigan (160K .doc)

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