Save Campus Diversity: Students Speak Up
This fall the Supreme Court will decide whether universities can nurture diversity on campus by making race and ethnicity a factor in admissions procedures. If the Court strikes down past decisions supporting diversity efforts, the decision could have a ripple effect and add to growing racial disparities. The United States Student Association (USSA) is preparing an amicus brief about the importance of diversity in schools that will be delivered to the Court on August 13, 2012 and they want your support.
Tell the Supreme Court You Value Diversity on Your Campus!
A Little Background
In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that the University of Michigan's Law School could consider race in admissions procedures in order to achieve a diverse student body. But the vote was tight, with only 5 of the 9 justices voting in favor of allowing race and ethnicity to be a deciding factor in college admissions.
This fall the court will take up this issue again when it hears arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. At issue is a change that UT officials implemented after the 2003 decision regarding Michigan's policies. Begining in 1998 most of the spots available to incoming freshman were granted to the top ten percent of graduating high school students in Texas. The remaining spots were given out based on other criteria that did not include race or ethnicity: essays, extra curricular activities, academic performance, etc. After 2003, UT officials began including race and ethnicity in the list of other factors to consider with the specific intention of improving diversity in the classroom and across the school.
Abigail Fisher, the petitioner in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, claims that UT's admissions policies discriminated against her by giving preferential treatment to less qualified candidates based on their race or ethnicity. Her case to the Supreme Court makes two arguments: one, that UT's policies go beyond the ruling that upheld Michigan's policies and, two, that the Court should overturn the Michigan ruling altogether.
So Why All the Fuss?
When the ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger, (aka, the Michigan case), was handed down, the majority decision was written by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who has since retired. Supreme Court watchers believe the additions of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel A. Alito, who replaced O'Connor, could tip the balance against policies and programs that deliberately promote diversity. Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin isn't looking to just alter UT's admissions policies - it's looking to revamp decades of affirmative action.
Take a moment to sign on in support of USSA's amicus brief to the Supreme Court. In 2003, nearly 14,000 students supported an amicus brief that clearly told the Justices that diversity was valued by students across the country.