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The University Of Texas At Austin Has Race Problems, But Affirmative Action Ain’t One

October 11th, 2012 | 3 comments | Posted by Jen

Two big stories involving the University of Texas at Austin emerged in the past week, and both of them center around race. The first is about a series of incidents that happened between June and September, in which black and Asian students at UT were “bleach-bombed,” i.e. hit with bleach-filled balloons, near campus. The attacks sparked a protest march last Tuesday, and both the campus and Austin police are currently investigating. The second is about a case that was brought before the Supreme Court Wednesday by Abigail Fisher, a 22 year-old recent graduate of LSU, who’s suing UT because she believes she was denied admission four years ago due to the school’s affirmative-action admissions policy, and because she is white.

Abigail Fisher, Reject

Texas state law requires its public colleges and universities to automatically admit Texas applicants if they’ve graduated in the top ten percent of their class, which Fisher did not. Roughly three-quarters of Texas applicants are admitted under this Top Ten program. In 2008, the year Fisher would have matriculated if she had been accepted, 81 percent of all incoming freshmen enrolled under it. The remaining in-state and out-of-state applicants who do not get in under this program are, according to the NY Times, “considered under standards that take account of academic achievement and other factors, including race and ethnicity.”

Fisher’s lawyers are arguing that the race-neutral Top Ten program at UT creates enough ethnic and racial diversity alone.  According to the AP, however, during a period in the 90′s when UT wasn’t practicing affirmative action, “diversity numbers plummeted.” The university is arguing that it needs to maintain its affirmative action program in order to achieve a “critical mass” of diversity. UT’s director of admissions, Dr. Kedra Ishop, told the Times that diversity “helps students overcome biases and make contributions to a diverse society,” adding, “The role of U.T. Austin is to provide leadership to the state.”

In comments following arguments Wednesday, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia sounded skeptical of the university’s diversity goals. Roberts wondered Continue reading The University Of Texas At Austin Has Race Problems, But Affirmative Action Ain’t One

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