Supreme Court should protect affirmative action

By Editorial Board

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case that could affect how colleges can or cannot use race as a factor in admission. Fisher v. University of Texas, which was argued before the court on Oct. 10, focuses on using race as a criterion for admission.

Abigail Fisher, a white resident of Texas, sued the University of Texas at Austin, claiming she was rejected by the college because its admissions policy factors in race when determining who will be accepted.

This is an important case because the Supreme Court could overturn its 2003 ruling that supports limited affirmative action.

The Top 10 Percent Rule determines most admissions to the university. Any Texas high school student who graduates in the top 10 percent of his or her class is automatically accepted to any state college. The remaining spots at U of T are filled based on other deciding factors. Race was added to the list after the previous decision allowed the limited use of affirmative action in college admissions.

The university said it would not have accepted Fisher even if race were not a factor. When she applied in 2008, “Top 10” students filled 92 percent of the college’s freshman openings. Among the remaining applicants, Fisher’s test scores and academic performance did not meet the requirements for acceptance to the college that year, according to a “friend of the court” filing from the NAACP. The plaintiff has no evidence to back up her argument that minority students with less merit were selected instead of her.

U of T doesn’t use racial quotas, and race is only a small factor considered when accepting applicants. There is no substantial evidence that Fisher was discriminated against because of race. She is not only arguing that U of T’s policy is unconstitutional, but that the earlier Supreme Court decision should be overturned.

Before the 2003 ruling on affirmative action, U of T did not consider race in admission. During this time, minority applications to the college dropped to historic lows. It is obvious that the current admissions policy is necessary to create a diverse educational environment that provides equal opportunities for all students.

Ideally, student academic and personal merit alone should determine which college they are accepted to, but we don’t live in an ideal world. In order to ensure diverse classrooms and an equal right to higher education, race needs to be considered.

Policies like U of T’s should be allowed to stay in effect as long as they do not overlook strong academic performance.  Racial quotas are—and should remain—unconstitutional.