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.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .