Historical Context


Why Ann Arbor in 2003?

The game is set at the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus in April 2003 due to the historic Supreme Court deliberations on affirmative action in university admissions in this time period.

For Players: Historical Context 

It’s April 2003. George W. Bush is president of the United States.  Bush has launched the “War on Terror,” sparking protests against the invasion of Iraq around the world. Asia is experiencing a SARS epidemic. J.K. Rowling’s fifth Harry Potter book, The Order of the Phoenix, is scheduled to be released in two months. Finding Nemo opens in theaters next month. The iPhone does not exist.

On your university campus in Ann Arbor, all attention is focused on the University of Michigan’s standing trial at the Supreme Court for two separate cases on affirmative action. These cases began in 1997, when disgruntled white applicants Jennifer Gratz, Patrick Hamacher and Barbara Grutter filed lawsuits alleging that the University’s admissions policies used unlawful racial preferences for minority applicants. The Supreme Court is considering both cases. Grutter v. Bollinger concerns admissions to the Michigan law school, where race and ethnicity is a “plus factor” in admissions. Gratz v. Bollinger concerns undergraduate programs, where race and ethnicity figures as a category in a points “selection index” to rate incoming undergraduates. Both cases are being debated in the Supreme Court, for a historic court decision that takes place in June 2003.

At this moment in time in April 2003, you have no knowledge of what decisions will eventually be made by the Supreme Court. But you are well aware that everyone on campus is invigorated by these issues. As members of the Student Assembly, your resolutions on these matters, along with three other race-related issues, will be taken into account by the university administration in terms of changing the College’s policies on race and ethnicity. Your discussions carry great weight.  All of the decisions you make as a collective team will profoundly affect the future of undergraduate students at the University of Michigan.


Image credit dbking on Flickr

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