updated 12/11/2006 6:06:03 PM ET 2006-12-11T23:06:03

Three universities asked a federal court in Detroit on Monday to delay a new state ban on public affirmative action programs until after this year’s admissions and financial aid cycles.

The University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University want to complete their annual admissions and financial aid cycles using the standards that were in effect when the process began earlier this year.

The voter-approved initiative to ban the use of race and gender preferences in university admissions and government hiring is to take effect Dec. 23.

The University of Michigan’s admissions process begins in the summer when applications are sent to prospective students and counselors. It ends the following May. So far, the school has received nearly 16,000 applications.

“It would be extremely difficult, and unfair to prospective students, to change our admissions and financial aid processes in midstream,” University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman said in a news release.

The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, the group that organized and supported the initiative, said universities have had adequate time since the November election to get ready for the change.

“This is at best horrible planning by the universities, and at worst an attempt to evade the voters,” said state Rep. Leon Drolet, a member of the group.

After the initiative passed, Coleman said the university would try to finish this year’s admissions cycle under its current system, which considers race in selecting students. She said scholarship and financial aid promises made to students would be kept, and that no one on campus would lose a job because of the new law.

The initiative was approved by 58 percent of voters. The measure was prompted by a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld a general affirmative action policy at the University of Michigan’s law school but struck down the school’s undergraduate admissions formula, which awarded points based on race.

Courts have upheld a similar proposal passed in California a decade ago.

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