Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Talented Tenth Redux

Almost missed this one.

An 18-year-old Sugar Land student sued the University of Texas at Austin on Monday, challenging the school's use of racial preferences in its admissions policy.

Abigail Noel Fisher, a senior at Stephen F. Austin High School in Sugar Land, was named in the lawsuit filed on her behalf by the Project on Fair Representation.

Project director Edward Blum, an activist against race preferences... ...said Fisher, who is white, will graduate in the top 12 percent of her class next month but learned in late March that she was not accepted at UT-Austin.

The lawsuit doesn't challenge the top 10 percent law, which guarantees admission to those who finish in the top 10 percent of a Texas high school's graduating class. Instead, it contends that UT-Austin unlawfully uses racial and ethnic criteria to select other students.

Where to start? Well how about here. The University of Texas is overwhelming Caucasian, who make up 55 percent of the student body. Hispanics make up 15.6 percent, and Asians comprise another 15 percent. African-Americans? 4.2 percent.

The 10 percent rule was put in place because of activists who felt that UT's and other Texas schools use of race-based admissions to increase campus diversity was unlawful.

The top 10 percent law was adopted after a 1996 court ruling stopped Texas colleges and universities from considering race and ethnicity in deciding admissions; UT-Austin's minority enrollment is higher now than at any time since the law passed.

So far it's worked although you'd be hard pressed to tell based on those percentages. Now apparently these activists have a problem with the solution devised. From their website we learn that it's not the 10 percent rule that they have a problem with, but rather that the University uses other criteria to round out their admission policy.

For those students not in the top-10% of their graduating class, UT-Austin considers SAT scores and a variety of other factors. The UT web site states:

We consider many factors as we review applications and make admissions decisions. In particular we’re looking for insight into two aspects of each applicant: academic achievement and personal achievement.

Their argument is that UT's 10 percent policy has worked and to use race in any way towards determining the remaining applicants is unconstitutional.

Now I feel for Ms. Fisher because obviously she really wants to go to UT. However somewhere in this great state of ours, there are other students who worked just a little bit harder to make it into the top 10 percent. Additionally, there are also students who have achieved both personally and academically that UT warranted as worthy of admission. In all likelihood, some of those students are minorities.

That's the university's choice and there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of room for interpretation of that by activists. At least I haven't seen the evidence that Caucasian kids are being excluded to bring in more Black or Hispanic students, which is what this case is all about.

I suppose we'll see how it plays out in court, but until then I say Go UT!


Regina said...

WOW! This is a very interesting story! I'll have to keep tabs on this story. Thanks for sharing!

DP said...

Regina - it is interesting isn't it. There are always those who try to erase progress by crying reverse discrimination, and I think this is one of those cases. We'll keep you updated.

See you over at your place in a bit for Old School Friday!