The Supreme Court is currently considering the case of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, which centers on whether affirmative action should play a role in student admission.
As it currently stands, any Texas high school student who graduates in the top 10 percent of his or her class is given automatic admission to University of Texas at Austin. Those students account for over 70 percent of incoming freshman.
The other 25 percent to 30 percent of incoming freshman are admitted based on what the University of Texas at Austin calls a “holistic” approach, which means the admissions department evaluates everything from a student’s extra-curricular activities to income to race.
It’s the latter “holistic” approach that white student Abigail Fisher is suing over, as she believes it gave applicants of color an advantage over her.
Debate has erupted around the country and on the Austin campus about whether Fisher is right. Three University of Texas students join The Takeaway at KUT to give their opinions.
Mac McCann is a freshman at University of Texas at Austin. He’s also the public relations director for the Libertarian Longhorns. He was admitted as a 'ten percenter.' He believes that Affirmative Action discriminates against certain groups.
Samantha Robles, a third-year social work student and coordinator of We Support UT, a student coalition that advocates for the holistic review process. She was admitted as a ten percenter.
Crystal Zhao is a senior majoring in communication studies. She’s also a University-wide representative in student government. She was admitted as an-out-of-state student on the holistic approach. She has mixed feelings about the case.
"I disagree with the use of race at all in the admissions process," McCann says. "It allows people, like Miss. Fisher — who the University already said wouldn't have been admitted regardless of race — it allows her to resent a certain group of people because they do have an advantage, which I don't think is necessary."
McCann says that the 10 percent rule is the reason for most of the university's diversity anyway, and that including race as a factor just gives white applicants, like Fisher, the opportunity to claim that they were denied admission on the basis of race.
"If anything, using race as a factor is degrading to minorities," McCann says. "It's implying that they actually need this help, that they need this boost. I think that's unacceptable in today's society."
Samantha Robles is less certain that getting rid of affirmative action entirely is the answer. "I think it's very idealistic," she says of McCann's position, which assumes that there is not inequality to contend with. Still, she says, "The universities in Texas can not fix something that's going on [in] K-12."
Crystal Zhao is worried that if affirmative action is struck down, it might affect the 10 percent rule. "People can argue that that is a form of affirmative action."