This week, the Supreme Court will once again consider the constitutionality of racial preferences in admissions decisions by public universities.
Abigail Fisher, a white 22 year-old, who recently graduated from Louisiana State University, said the University of Texas held her race against her when it didn’t admit her.
“I’m hoping,” she said, “that they’ll completely take race out of the issue in terms of admissions and that everyone will be able to get into any school that they want no matter what race they are but solely based on their merit and if they work hard for it…”
“Three-quarters of applicants from Texas are admitted under a program that guarantees admission to the top students in every high school in the state. (Almost everyone calls this the Top Ten program, though the percentage cutoff can vary. Ms. Fisher barely missed the cutoff.) The remaining Texas students and those from elsewhere are considered under standards that take account of academic achievement and other factors, including race and ethnicity.”
The University of Texas said Fisher wouldn’t have been admitted regardless of race. But the larger defense is that it must be free to put together a varied student body, a view supported by a 2003 Supreme Court ruling in Grutter V. Bollinger.
“Admissions officers at colleges and universities almost universally endorse the idea that students from diverse backgrounds learn from each other, overcome stereotypes, and in so doing prepare themselves for leadership positions in society. Many critics of affirmative action say that there is at best a weak correlation between race and having a range of views presented in the classroom.”
“Others say the Constitution does not permit the government to sort people by race, no matter how worthy its goal. “While racial diversity on college campuses is beneficial, it cannot be attained by racial discrimination,” said Edward Blum, an adviser to Ms. Fisher and a driving force behind the Fisher case….”
(The story and cases are fairly complicated. Click the link to read all of it. I can only pull a few paragraphs.)
In the college class that I teach I do think it adds to the experience and discussion to have students of different races and from different countries. It’s interesting how their experiences growing up affect their news judgment and the subjects they are interested in covering. It adds so much to our discussions to know what would and wouldn’t be allowed on the front of a foreign newspaper.
So what do you think: Should race be considered in college admissions? What do you think of the Top 10 approach? When you were in college, were your classes diverse? How did that affect your learning?