The University of Michigan issued a revised admissions policy yesterday in line with the Supreme Court decision upholding the use of race in admissions but striking down the university’s point system. The new undergraduate admissions policy at Michigan will use short essays on the topic of diversity to search for students who will add to “the intellectual vibrancy and diversity of the student body,” according to the Los Angeles Times. Because of the additional application readers required to deal with short essays, the new system will be more than 33 percent more expensive than the point-system the school was previously using, costing $2 million a year, the New York Times reports. The new system, called a “holistic review,” is similar to the process that smaller and more select colleges use for admissions.
Michigan’s affirmative action policy was challenged in 1997 by two white students who were denied admission, one to the undergraduate program and one to the law school. The students were represented by an anti-affirmative action non-profit group, the Center for Individual Rights. The US Supreme Court in February of this year upheld Michigan’s use of race in its law school admissions, and in the undergraduate admissions upheld the principles of affirmative action but struck down the specific policy Michigan employed. Michigan had been using a point system in which student s could receive points for a number of factors, including race, low-income status, leadership, service, life experiences, and for living in Michigan’s upper peninsula, among other factors. In announcing the new policy, Mary Sue Coleman, university president, said, “Our fundamental values haven’t changed. We believe that in order to create a dynamic learning environment for all of our students, we must bring together students who are highly qualified academically and who represent a wide range of backgrounds and experiences,” according to the NY Times.