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Race and College Admissions, Facing a New Test by Justices

WASHINGTON — Abigail Fisher is a slight young woman with strawberry blond hair, a smile that needs little prompting, a determined manner and a good academic record. She played soccer in high school, and she is an accomplished cellist.

But the university she had her heart set on, the one her father and sister had attended, rejected her. “I was devastated,” she said, in her first news interview since she was turned down by the University of Texas at Austin four years ago.

Ms. Fisher, 22, who is white and recently graduated from Louisiana State University, says that her race was held against her, and the Supreme Court is to hear her case on Wednesday, bringing new attention to the combustible issue of the constitutionality of racial preferences in admissions decisions by public universities.

“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.”

The university said Ms. Fisher would not have been admitted even if race had played no role in the process, and it questioned whether she has suffered the sort of injury that gives her standing to sue. But the university’s larger defense is that it must be free to assemble a varied student body as part of its academic and societal mission. The Supreme Court endorsed that view by a 5-to-4 vote in 2003 in Grutter v. Bollinger.

University officials said that the school’s affirmative action program was needed to build a student body diverse enough to include minority students with a broad range of backgrounds and for the campus to have a “critical mass” of minority students in most classrooms. Interaction among students in class and around campus, said Kedra Ishop, the university’s director of admissions, helps students overcome biases and make contributions to a diverse society. “The role of U.T. Austin,” Dr. Ishop said, “is to provide leadership to the state.”

The majority opinion in the Grutter case, written by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, rejected the use of racial quotas in admissions decisions but said that race could be used as one factor among many, as part of a “holistic review.” Justice O’Connor retired in 2006, and her replacement by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. may open the way for a ruling cutting back on such race-conscious admissions policies, or eliminating them.

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 competing arguments are hard to test, but a recent visit to a freshman seminar at the University of Texas at Austin suggested that the intellectual life of undergraduates there is varied and vibrant.

The course was called Debates on Democracy in America, and the topic that day was “The Known World,” Edward P. Jones’s novel about a black slave owner.

It was only the third week of class, but the 18 students, of all sorts of ethnicities and backgrounds, talked easily and earnestly about contemporary echoes of slavery. An Asian student mentioned cheap labor in China. A Hispanic one talked about the ways employers in the United States take advantage of illegal immigrants.

Other comments ran counter to possible stereotypes. D’wahn Kelley, a black student, said he hesitated to condemn the slave owner in the novel too harshly.

“You’re judged on what you know, not what you don’t know,” he said, referring to the limits

by Anonymousreply 1710/09/2012

"But the university she had her heart set on, the one her father and sister had attended, rejected her. “I was devastated,” she said, in her first news interview since she was turned down by the University of Texas at Austin four years ago."


OK, this woman clearly treats getting into UT-Austin as an entitlement, and is probably smarting that she didn't manage to do what her daddy and sister did, so it must be discrimination.

She also states that she would have gotten a better job had she gotten into UT. I'd love to know how she could possibly prove that.

by Anonymousreply 110/09/2012

I don't know how she could possibly know that she was rejected because of her race.


by Anonymousreply 210/09/2012

Coddled little bitch with racist parents influencing her.

Case closed!

by Anonymousreply 310/09/2012

Sandra Day O'Connor said it best: race is one aspect of a person to take into consideration.

Nobody complains about class-based affirmative action, which is how brain-dead cokeheads like GWB get into places like Yale. That's 'tradition' so it's ok.

by Anonymousreply 410/09/2012

"The university said Ms. Fisher would not have been admitted even if race had played no role in the process"

Not only is the girl spoiled and entitled, but also heaviky supported by her parents who are spending the cash for this waste of time case. "A good academic record" is a vague way of saying a B- student. Every kid in school plays soccer or something similar. Quit whining and instead spend this time and money on tutoring.

Poor little rich white girl.

by Anonymousreply 510/09/2012

I thought U of T had a rule that anyone in the top 10% of his/her class got in, regardless of race. So she wasn't in the top 10%?

by Anonymousreply 610/09/2012

Fuck that bitch.

by Anonymousreply 710/09/2012

It is an interesting question. If it is permissible for an institution to make decisions based on race, then is it permissible to make any race based decision or are only some decisions acceptable.

by Anonymousreply 810/09/2012

Coddled little bitch with CHEAP racist parents influencing her. Children of donating alumni ALWAYS get in.

by Anonymousreply 910/09/2012

[quote]So she wasn't in the top 10%?

The article says she barely missed the cutoff.

by Anonymousreply 1010/09/2012

Complicating the situation in the US:

BOSTON October 9, 2012 (AP)

A couple from Hong Kong has sued a U.S.-based college admissions consultant for failing to get their two sons into an Ivy League university as he had allegedly promised.

Gerald and Lily Chow say in their suit filed in U.S. District Court in Boston that they gave Mark Zimny more than $2 million to get their sons into an elite American university, preferably Harvard.

Zimny is a former Harvard professor who ran the education consultancy group IvyAdmit Consulting LLC.

The Boston Globe reports that the Chows say they gave $2.2 million to Zimny, who said he had contacts at Harvard and would funnel donations from the Chows to elite colleges.

They charge Zimny with fraud and breach of contract. They want their money back.

Zimny denied the allegations in court papers.

by Anonymousreply 1110/09/2012

Only some, R8. Because all cases are not equivalent.

by Anonymousreply 1210/09/2012

Her father and sister went to UT, but when it comes to state universities being a legacy doesn't mean much if anything at all. She graduated from LSU, but it doesn't say where the family is from orginally. If she came from out of state, she might have had tougher requirements than in state students.

by Anonymousreply 1310/09/2012

Affirmative action and racial quotas were created to stop widespread discrimination, and to lift bright kids out of poverty.

But of course, it's much more important that rich white kids get into the school of their choice.

by Anonymousreply 1410/09/2012

I remember the Michigan cases holding that race could be one factor in admissions, but couldn't be the sole factor (which would seem impossible to enforce).

There seems to be a good chance that considering race in the interests of diversity will be forbidden. Mixed feelings about that.

So, now then schools won't be able to take a black/hispanic kid (for example) with lower test scores and/or grades than a white kid under any circumstances. I guess that makes sense. But, then don't you really just need to admit the applicants with the best aggregate scores/grades, period. I mean how long before white applicant #1 with a 3.89 GPA starts complaining that white applicant #2 with a 3.83 got accepted when she didn't.

by Anonymousreply 1510/09/2012

If they restrict considering race at all, colleges will still seek to build a diverse student body. So, if you happen to be a minority with top scores and grades, you'll be in very high in demand.

by Anonymousreply 1610/09/2012

It's not separate but equal. A diverse student body offers something to a school. In addition, it is not all about test scores. We all know that in some ivy league and private universities one gets in b/c daddy bought your way in.

A diverse student body is one with varied experiences. Besides, High School A might award most of the kids A's while High School B might have higher standards for an A therefore screwing up the GPA of some of those kids. Thus, those kids in High School B are at a loss since they can't compete with Britnney's undeserved A for Pottery and numerous extracurriculars. Danielle over might have had to work part time, negotiate survival in the projects or couldn't do as well in her Bio class b/c her teacher had higher standards for an A.

SAT scores don't mean much in the scheme of things either.

This girl sounds like an entitled dolt.

by Anonymousreply 1710/09/2012
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