Hispanic, Higher Education Groups Urge Bush Support of Affirmative Action

Hispanic, Higher Education Groups Urge Bush Support of Affirmative Action

WASHINGTON

Hispanic and higher education leaders called on President George W. Bush earlier this month to demonstrate his administration’s support of the affirmative action policies currently under review by the U.S. Supreme Court. Anticipating what will be a landmark ruling on affirmative action, the leaders urged Bush to support the University of Michigan’s right to consider race as a plus factor in its law school and undergraduate admissions. The cases, which are to be argued before the high court this spring, are Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger.

Hispanic leaders unveiled a 6-by-4-foot letter at a Washington news conference asking the president to support the University of Michigan’s position in the two cases. The leaders warned that if the court rules against the university, Hispanics will lose opportunities to attend institutions of higher learning to become doctors, lawyers, politicians and business leaders who make a strong contribution to society.

“Will America continue to make the ‘American Dream’ a real possibility for all Americans, or will it create sub-classes of disenfranchised Americans,” asked Moctesuma Esparza, chairperson of the New America Alliance, at the news conference.

Signing the letter to President Bush was a coalition of representatives from national Hispanic organizations, including Esparza; Dr. Antonio Flores, president and CEO, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities; and representatives from the MANA-A National Latina Organization, the National Hispana Leadership Institute, the National Community for Latino Leadership, the National Council of La Raza, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the National Association of Hispanic Publications, the Cuban American National Council and the University of Puerto Rico.

In another action, leaders of 34 higher education associations sent a letter to President Bush asking the administration to file an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the University of Michigan in the cases.

“American higher education is considered the best in the world because of America’s long-standing tradition of government deference to educators’ judgment on academic questions, such as what combination of students yields the best educational outcomes,” wrote American Council on Education president Dr. David Ward in the letter that was sent on behalf of the associations.

At Black Issues’ press time, one day before legal briefs were due to the Supreme Court, White House officials announced that Bush would declare his opposition to Michigan’s use of race in college admissions.

— By Ronald Roach



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