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Law School Approves new admissions policy

November 29, 2006

At the end of a 2 ½ hour open meeting on Wednesday, December 6, 2006, the Wayne State University Law School faculty voted to revise the Admissions Policy for J.D. applicants. 

The revision to the policy was prompted by the passage of Proposal 2 last month by Michigan voters.  Beginning December 22, 2006, Michigan law will “ban public institutions from using affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on their race, gender, color, ethnicity or national origin for public employment, education or contracting purposes” unless the law is challenged in the courts.

The new Law School Admissions Standards and Procedures state that in addition to considering an applicant’s academic achievement and potential, the Admissions Committee is “directed to consider positively…an applicant’s demonstrated capacity to overcome or persevere against socioeconomic disadvantage,” to consider whether the applicant is the first person in his or her family to attend college, what responsibilities regarding childcare or employment the applicant had while a student, as well as the applicant's perseverance in the face of "substantial obstacles such as family or personal adversity, educational disability…and prejudice or discrimination.”

The Procedure additionally states that the Admissions Committee should consider “other factors that contribute to a diverse and engaged law school student body and legal profession," including geographic residence, work and volunteer experience, leadership qualities, commitment to community and public service, and others.

The new policy was drafted by Law Professor Jonathan Weinberg, who explained that the Law School's goal is to "get a class that is diverse in the broadest sense -- a student body that has a broad set of interests, backgrounds, perspectives and life experiences -- and to do that without using race." The new policy is scheduled to go into operation on December 22.

Law School Dean Frank H. Wu thanked “all of our stakeholders for participating in this important process. We have a strong tradition of faculty governance, and through the democratic process our law professors have determined a policy for the institution. I would like to thank Professor Weinberg, the long-time Chair of the Admissions Committee, for his fine work in studying the complex issues involved. His leadership was crucial to our collegial, productive deliberations."

In voting for the policy unanimously, the Law School faculty signaled their support for a diverse entering class.  The only body at Wayne State University that needs to approve the policy is the faculty.  University administrators and the Board of Governors do not have a vote in the Law School admissions policy.  The WSU Law School is the first school in the state to make its admissions policy public after the passage of Proposal 2. 

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