Michigan case memo assignment (Graded A+) - use as a guide only - 30264

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<Memo Assignment>

Please use the Chapter 4 case 1 entitled "How would you vote if you lived in Michigan?" as your case for your memo review. Please answer the case ending questions as part of your case memo. Also please follow the following instructions and questions for analysis.

When completing each memo, please do the following: 1. Explain all significant facts of the case. 2. State the most important ethical issue in the case. 3. Suggest and evaluate resolutions to this issue. Consider the effects of each alternative on all company stakeholders and explain why you think one of the alternatives is the best.


How Would You Vote if You Lived in Michigan?

In 2003 the U.S. Supreme Court heard two cases about racial preferences in admissions at the University of Michigan. The Court ruled that some limited forms of racial preference are allowable. In response to the Supreme Court cases, some citizens of Michigan proposed an amendment to the constitution, which came to be called the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative and “Proposal 2.” The amendment would prohibit all state agencies in Michigan from giving preferences to individuals because of their race, ethnicity, color, country of origin, or gender. The proposed amendment would effectively dismantle all forms of affirmative action programs that were in place for public contracting, hiring, university admissions, and the like.

For Michigan, a state which is roughly 80 percent white, but is also among the most segregated in the country, the issue was an especially divisive one. A lagging economy, a recent influx of foreign immigrants, and competitive admissions at the state’s universities all contributed to the import of the proposed amendment. In earlier years, California and Washington State had paved the way by passing similar measures.

Proponents of the amendment claimed that individual merit ought to be the sole factor in hiring and admissions decisions and that giving preference to minorities was reverse discrimination. They believed that all distinctions made along gender or racial lines are unjust. Opponents of the amendment claimed that diversity was itself valuable and that affirmative action programs were necessary to lessen racial inequalities in the state. They believed that the proposed amendment would severely hurt minorities and women and would result in fewer opportunities for members of these groups.

Voters in Michigan were therefore faced with a stark moral choice about what the law should be (not about what the law is). They were asked to evaluate the moral acceptability of the amendment and the likely effects of this amendment on diversity, social cohesion, and individual merit before deciding between strict equality of opportunity and programs designed to help underprivileged minorities.

The proposed amendment was ultimately passed with a 58 percent majority, thus banning affirmative action policies in the state. The University of Michigan, with great reluctance, changed its admissions policies to conform to the new law while vowing to fight for continued diversity. The university’s students were divided over how they would have voted. On January 13, 2007, University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman reiterated the university’s commitment to diversity and vowed to continue to create as much diversity as the law allows and to use outreach programs for recruitment of minorities.

1.    Is it ever acceptable for public institutions to engage in preferential treatment of minority groups? If so, under what conditions?

2.    How much say should citizens have in determining the hiring practices of the state and state-funded institutions?

3.    Is diversity in the workplace inherently valuable? Or is it valuable as a means to something else that is inherently valuable, such as protecting human right?

4.    Does minority racial preference entail reverse discrimination? If so, is reverse discrimination a form of invidious discrimination?


5.    Is ending preferential treatment the best way to ensure that candidates are judged solely on personal merit? Would other criteria take its place?

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