Friday, June 24, 2016

Fisher II got it right on Race and Affirmative Action – Cloaking Inequity

Fisher II got it right on Race and Affirmative Action – Cloaking Inequity:

Fisher II got it right on Race and Affirmative Action

As a nation, we are fortunate that the Supreme Court ruled that the University of Texas admission plan “clearly reconciled the pursuit of diversity with the constitutional promise of equal treatment and dignity.”
In Fisher v. University of Texas, the court considered the case of Abigail Fisher, who claims she didn’t get in to UT because the school preferred non-white candidates. Critics of affirmative action in admissions often frame the matter like that: as a rule that says when two exactly equal candidates apply for a spot in a university, the minority candidate is chosen each time. This is a gross and purposeful simplification of what actually occurs.
In their ruling Thursday, the justices didn’t buy Fisher’s argument. “Drawing all reasonable inferences in her favor,” Justice Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion, “petitioner has not shown by a preponderance of the evidence that she was denied equal treatment at the time her application was rejected.”
At UT-Austin, the Top Ten Percent plan has filled about 75 percent of the places in the freshman class. However, recent adjustments by the Texas Legislature has meant that to be admitted under this category, a student must actually finish in the top seven or eight percent of his or her class.
After the admissions from the Top Ten Percent Plan are finished, UT-Austin adopts an approach similar to the one used by the University of Michigan Law School (and affirmed in the Grutter case). For the remaining 25 percent or so of an incoming class at UT-Austin, Kennedy wrote, race is only a “factor of a factor of a factor.”
towerIn essence, the secondary admission process is a “holistic-review calculus” of many factors. The majority opinion that the consideration of race at UT-Austin “is contextual and does not operate as a mechanical plus factor for underrepresented minorities.”
Not discussed in the current ruling, but I believe relevant, is that Fisher did not fall below a bright line by which Whites were rejected and minorities admitted. As reported in The Nation, UT-Austin offered admission “to some students with lower test scores and grades than Fisher. Five of those students were Black or Latino. Forty-two Fisher II got it right on Race and Affirmative Action – Cloaking Inequity:

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