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Trustees call for careful examination of fall ballot initiative

May 1, 2006

KALAMAZOO--A resolution passed by Western Michigan University's Board of Trustees April 28 urged the University community and all Michigan citizens to carefully study the language and consider the impact of a fall ballot initiative proposed by the Michigan "Civil Rights" Initiative Committee.

Trustee William J. Martin of Battle Creek presented the board resolution and the full board approved it by unanimous voice vote. The measure was introduced during a regular meeting in which trustees also accepted a Diversity and Multicultural Action Plan for WMU that has been in development for two years.

The resolution on the ballot initiative noted that WMU is committed to "creating a community that values diversity and multiculturalism as essential components of excellence in education, service and community environment." The board said it wished to express its commitment to the principles of inclusion, acceptance, respect and the empowerment of traditionally underrepresented groups in the University community as a legitimate goal of higher education.

The board noted that it believes "the wording of the pending ballot language is vague and confusing." It said the ballot initiative, if passed, would necessitate "enormous expenditures of taxpayer and student tuition dollars to deal with its interpretation and implementation, to the detriment of university students, the public and the Michigan economy."

The board resolved to encourage the WMU community and Michigan voters to carefully study the initiative's language, take into account the negative impact that similar ballot proposals have had in California and Washington, and to consider how a similar constitutional amendment in Michigan could undermine WMU's diversity and multiculturalism initiatives, which now serve to enhance the University's educational programs, services and environment.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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