Affirmative action has always been a controversial issue since it’s inception in 1961 by John Kennedy. The goal was to counter the effects of a history of discrimination by eliminating the discrimination of minorities in college admissions on the grounds of gender, religion, ethnicity, handicap and yes — race. This not only applies to college campuses, but to the workplace as well.
In 2008, Abigail Fisher’s application was rejected from the University of Texas. Fisher graduated from Stephen F. Austin High School with a 3.59 GPA, a score of 1180 on the SAT. She was ranked 82 from a class of 674 (in the 12 percentile).
Fisher sued the university, arguing that she was rejected because she is white. The U.S. Supreme Court heard the case on October 10, 2012, and a decision is expected sometime in June 2013. This case calls into question the use of race as a determining factor in enrollment by universities to increase diversity on campus. In 2003, this same question was brought under scrutiny in Grutter v. Bollinger, in which the Supreme Court supported the University of Michigan Law School’s use of race and ethnicity as one factor in making admissions decisions.
A ruling in Fisher’s favor would overturn the previous ruling and set a precedent against affirmative action in universities all over the country.
The heated debates surrounding Fisher v. University of Texas, the current Supreme Court case call for a clarification of the policy.
We are in favor of the University of Texas in this particular case.
Affirmative action is still needed to help colleges increase racial diversity in their admissions. Fisher, the student suing the University of Texas does not have a strong enough case to risk overturning affirmative action. Though it is not a perfect system, affirmative action is the best policy we have so far to ensure racial diversity in higher education, and thus diversity in the workplace.
While Baylor is a private institution, its enrollment methods and decisions are not answerable to the state. However, the Fisher v. University of Texas decision will undoubtedly influence Baylor’s tendencies. As of Fall 2011, Baylor’s race/ethnic percentage was at 32.6. UT’s ethnic undergraduate enrollment for Fall 2012 is 50.9 percent, with the white population falling at 49.1 percent (a 1.2 percent decrease from Fall 2011). This marginal difference of ethnic majority in the university is bound to be affected by the upcoming ruling. Of the 50.1 percent of the ethnic population, 20.9 percent is Hispanic and 4.9 percent are black.
UT has gotten three-quarters of its students through a program that guarantees admission to the top students in every high school in Texas. In Fisher’s time it was the top 10 percent. Since then, it has been changed to the top 8 percent due to the traffic jam of competition the top 10 percent created in the surrounding high schools. The university uses race as a factor in admitting the other one-fourth of its incoming students, and is arguing that it must be allowed to continue to do so in order to achieve a healthy balance in the diversity of its campus population.
The Fisher v. University of Texas case undermines the goal of affirmative action, which is to promote diversity in college admissions.
Yes, affirmative action has lived in murky waters but that’s no reason to dismantle such an influential policy completely, in exchange for one that would create another problem. If the Supreme Court rules in Fisher’s favor, it will be affirming the argument that the University of Texas did not accept Fisher solely on the grounds of her race, which is not true at all.
As part of its current admissions policy, the University considers race in evaluating students that do not fall in the top 10 percent. Fisher was in the top 12 percent and thus fell into mob of tens of thousands of students in similar situations.
Fisher’s case is not viable because the university would have rejected her regardless of her race. She did not have the grades to compete with the tens of thousands of other students that apply every year. Reverse discrimination simply does not work in this situation. One rejected white student does not make the white population disadvantaged in any way comparable to that of minorities. To jeopardize the most influential policy regarding university racial diversity in the country on this case alone is a fluke.
Some believe that affirmative action has outlived its usefulness and is no longer a viable option for ensuring racial diversity in higher education.
Rather than race, lawmakers propose that socioeconomic status replace racial consideration in enrolling the remaining portion of the student body that does not meet all of the academic requirements. Whether this tactic is viable or not, it will not solve the problem of a lack of diversity in higher education.
In fact, this would merely put it on the backburner and open the door for a different type of argument. If this was implemented, what’s to stop the wealthy from claiming discrimination on the basis of their financial status?
In short, two wrongs don’t make a right.
The problem with this issue is that there is no clear “good guy” and “bay guy.” The Supreme Court is faced with the task of finding whose rights are infringed on the most, and the principle of non-discrimination hangs in the balance.
Abigail Fisher’s situation does not justify ending a policy that continues to help so many.