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Fisher v. UT in a Nutshell

Posted by admin on Wednesday, October 10, 2012

We all have one thing in common when it comes to being a college student: we had to get admitted. We spent hours filling out our registration forms and days on editing each admissions and scholarships essay. Now, however, some of that process may change; more specifically, future students may not have to check one of those little boxes under “race and ethnicity.†Fisher v. UT, a case on trial in the Supreme Court room today, could possibly take race out of the admissions process. Here’s a little insight as to what the case entails and why:

In this case, Abigail Fisher sued the University of Texas after being denied an admission. Although that may seem a bit crazy, Fisher's case is backed by law.

Fisher claims the University of Texas’ choice to consider race a factor in admissions violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Under this clause, Fisher argues that the University may only use race as a factor if, and only if, other race-neutral alternatives to promote diversity have not worked. Because of the success with the Top Ten Percent rule, which mandates that at least one of UT’s campuses must have a spot for all top ten percent applicants regardless of race, Fisher contends that the need for race-based factors in the non-top-ten-percent admissions is unnecessary.

Currently, however, UT has not made any legal mistake with its admissions policies. Under the 2003 Supreme Court verdict of Grutter v. Bollinger, universities have the ability to use race as a factor when admitting students (only to promote diversity and equal opportunity, of course). UT argues that the university has a compelling interest in maintaining the race-based admissions factors, because it promotes diversity on campus and in the classroom.

The decision of Fisher v. UT will either change or maintain affirmative action policies for admissions on the university level. On a broader scale, this decision could affect affirmative action’s survival in many areas, such as scholarship allocations and the workplace.

Now, that you've had a little taste of national government, keep up with this case! It might affect you, your family members and your friends. For more information and tweet updates throughout the day, follow a fellow collegiate from UT, Andrew Messamore, on Twitter: @AndrewMessamore (Messamore is covering the story for UT's Daily Texan newspaper).

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