2004-03-05 Lakeshore Press U-M provost to speak at racism summit

U-M provost to speak at racism summit
Lakeshore Press

Race remains a factor in the University of Michigan’s undergraduate admission policy after the race-conscious bonus points policy was struck down by the Supreme Court last summer.

Paul Courant, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, is one of the university administrators at the heart of that controversy.

Courant will give an address on affirmative action at the Ottawa Area Summit on Racism.

The summit entering the fourth year of a five-year dialogue, will be held March 20 at Hope College. Registration at www.ethnicdiversity.org is appreciated. Space is limited and the Saturday summit is expected to be full.

Cost is $20 with lunch; $10 without lunch.

The Center for Individual Rights brought lawsuits against the university on behalf of white applicants who were rejected. The suits argued that these students would have been admitted if the university’s admissions policy did not award a 20-point “bonus” to minority candidates to increase the institution’s diversity.

After the court ruled the policy was unconstitutional, the university threw out the point process for “scoring” applicants. Courant was among those who successfully argued that race should continue to play a role in the admissions process.

He contends recruitment and retention of talented and diverse students, faculty and staff enhances the intellectual and cultural vitality of an organization.

Courant also will make an economic case for conscientiously maintaining diversity in the workplace.

The summit’s afternoon keynote address will feature Sylvester Murray, professor of urban studies and director fo the public management program at Cleveland State University.

He will discuss the relationship between social equity and economic development.

“Affirmative action may be on the ballot in Michigan as a constitutional amendment, and we know that economic development and the health of local businesses is crucial to local communities and workers, especially at a time when so many jobs are leaving West Michigan,” said Gail Harrison, executive director of the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance, chief sponsor of the summit.

The daylong conference also will feature a “Sharing the Vision” segment, in which regional leaders will describe successful practices for building racial and ethnic unity in businesses, communities, schools, churches, government, and health-care organizations.

Local people who have been working together all year to forge more inclusive organizations and systems in different areas of community life will be meeting in the afternoon to fine-tune their final strategies.

The summit process has produced developments including signs in Spanish at Holland Community Hospital, increased training and recruitment of qualified minorities; the beginnings of a fair housing office; and heightened awareness about what forms discrimination takes in the community.

A resource center of books and materials will be available in the Maas Center over the lunch period. For more information, call Harrison at (616) 846-9074.