Fisher v. UT sparks upcoming meetings, discussion among students

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Representatives from three national organizations that promote ethnic rights will discuss the positives of affirmative action Tuesday night as the University prepares to defend the constitutionality of the practice before our nation’s highest court next week.

On Oct. 10, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a lawsuit originally filed against the University in 2008 by two white students who were denied admission to UT. The case challenges the constitutionality of affirmative action, a practice the Court last ruled constitutional in the 2003 case Grutter v. Bollinger involving the the University of Michigan Law School.

Organized by history senior Joshua Tang, Tuesday’s event, entitled “Fisher v. Texas and You: A Conversation with Civil Rights Leaders,” will bring together attorneys from the Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund, Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Tang said the attorneys will lead a dialogue explaining why affirmative action is necessary to help keep higher education accessible to minority groups.

According to the University’s website, UT currently accepts 75 percent of its incoming classes automatically based on high school class rank. The remaining 25 percent of students are selected through a holistic admissions process, which looks at academic achievement, personal achievement and special circumstances. The special circumstances section includes race and ethnicity along with seven other factors.
 
Tang said while he feels affirmative action does not come close to leveling the playing field for minority groups in terms of access to higher education, he feels it is a step in the right direction that needs to be defended.

“Holistic review at the very least makes sure that various racial, ethnic and other experiences are valued from the time of admission throughout a student’s time at UT, and then also, this gives us the chance to improve those numbers,” Tang said.

More than 70 individuals and organizations have formally filed support of the University in the case, including the U.S. government, 17 U.S. senators, the state of California and 14 former University of Texas student body presidents, according to University records.

Tang said no matter what happens in the Fisher case, there are many ways that students can still advocate in favor of minority groups, and he would like to see the panelists address that Tuesday night.

“There’s gonna be a Q-and-A, hopefully, to further discuss the issue of what students can do, not only before the Fisher case, before oral arguments are heard, but even afterwards, how we can advocate on behalf of underrepresented minorities and marginalized people as a whole,” Tang said.

The event will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. in BUR 106. A similar event, sponsored by The Public Affairs Alliance for Communities of Color, will be held from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. Wednesday in SRH 3.124.

Printed on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 as: Supreme Court to hear case on racism