Why A Recent Court Ruling Is Wrong About Affirmative Action In Michigan (Opinion)

Ann McClure's picture
Tuesday, September 13, 2011

In 2006, Michigan voters overwhelmingly approved Proposal 2, ending state-sponsored discrimination via race-based preferences in college admissions, hiring, and contracting. But a recent federal court ruling has temporarily overturned the will of Michigan voters, opening the door for affirmative action’s return to Michigan.

This would restore the racial favoritism that existed for decades at the University of Michigan and other public universities. And if race-based preferences return without any other intervention, we will see the perpetuation of an unintended consequence of affirmative action that does a great disservice to minority students but rarely gets discussed: academic mismatch.

Before Proposal 2, the Center for Equal Opportunity found that black and Hispanic high school students with a GPA of 3.20 and an SAT score of 1240 had roughly a 90 percent chance of being admitted to the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, while Asians and whites with the same academic credentials had only about a one in 10 chance of being accepted.

Once admitted, though, black students were about five-and-a-half times more likely to be on academic probation than white students (36.5 percent vs. 6.5 percent) and had an average GPA six-tenths of a point below white students (2.73 vs. 3.34).

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