Statement Regarding U.S. Supreme Court Decision to Hear Fisher v. The University of Texas

Feb. 21, 2012


President Bill PowersWatch a video of President Bill Powers discussing the U.S. Supreme Court decision to hear Fisher v. The University of Texas.

The University of Texas at Austin learned today that the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in Fisher v. The University of Texas.

The university is firmly committed to a holistic admissions policy that is narrowly tailored to achieve the educational benefits of a diverse student body. The Supreme Court wrote in the 2003 landmark Grutter v. Bollinger case that the nation’s future depends upon leaders educated and trained through wide exposure to the ideas and mores of students as diverse as this nation. Our admissions policy embodies that vision.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit unanimously affirmed in 2011 that the university’s policy is within the teachings of Grutter. Now before the Supreme Court, the university will vigorously seek a decision affirming the Fifth Circuit’s decision and reaffirming the educational benefits of diversity and our narrowly tailored holistic admissions policy.

The State of Texas’ Top 10 percent rule drives most of the university’s admissions. However, it is vital for the university to weigh a multitude of factors when making admissions decisions about the balance of students who will make up each entering class. We must have the flexibility to consider each applicant’s unique experiences and background so we can provide the best environment in which to educate and train the students who will be our nation’s future leaders.

For more information, contact: Gary Susswein, Office of the President, 512-471-4945; Patricia Ohlendorf, Office of the Vice President for Legal Affairs, 512-471-1241.

45 Comments to "Statement Regarding U.S. Supreme Court Decision to Hear Fisher v. The University of Texas"

1.  Scott said on Feb. 21, 2012

I am glad to see the University is still committed to affirmative action. I graduated in 1987, and I am proud that every minority in attendance at that time received at least $2,000 per year in scholarships. Unfortunately at the time, most of my professors, although reliably liberal, were white men. I hope very few white men are now professors, because a faculty composed of all liberal white men does not represent much diversity.

2.  James DeLeon said on Feb. 22, 2012

Why consider each applicant's experiences and background based merely on race? I suppose white students don't have unique exerpiences and backgrounds....only black students? Furthermore, we have an African-American president. Did he need A.A. to become POTUS? Why do we still need A.A.?

3.  David said on Feb. 23, 2012

We need to consider whether the goals desrcibed by Pres Powers require considering race per se, as opposed to socio-economics, atmosphere/ neighborhood growing up, growing up in a predominantly poor and/or ethnically/ racially/ culturally homogenous (read--segregated) background different from most students. It should be uncontroversial that diversity of experience and exposure to those backgrounds would benefit the entire student body. If you can show that no kid is denied admission or subordinated in the selection criteria soley based on race, as opposed to type of upbringing, UT wins--and racial diversity is likely improved. Our real problem is getting qualified minority students who are admitted, to come--and private scholarships for targeted groups, even racial ones, are still ok.

4.  Bill Barron said on Feb. 23, 2012

I am proud of the UT's consideration of diversity in its admissions policy. It is the right thing to do and I appreciate Bill Powers support. Bill Barron B.A.'68, J.D. '69

5.  Eugenio Castillo said on Feb. 23, 2012

Doesn't UT have an 8% admissions requirement now versus the 10% rule?

6.  Larry Thomas said on Feb. 23, 2012

This 'holistic' admissions policy (by the very difinition) is pure and simple race discrimination becaue it bases admission on race.
You can doctor it up with fancy holistic words to try to erase the stench of racism, but the bottom line is you're basing admission on race....thats race discrimination!
But I assume it makes you feel better to doctor it up with long winded verbage so it doesn't sound as bad.

7.  Oxy Moron said on Feb. 23, 2012

Interestingly, President Powers notes above that the University is focused on educating and training "the students who will be our nation’s future leaders." Never does he talk about providing a reasonably-priced education for the citizens of Texas. In fact, just a couple of days ago he boasted, "UT Austin has one of the largest cohorts of international students in the country, 4,631. I’m proud of that because international students help make our campus the global village that a modern university should be. (China, Korea, India, and Mexico contribute the most.)" This certainly seems contrary to training "our nation’s future leaders." It seems to me like UT is doing a lot to train China's, Korea's, India's and Mexico's future leaders, at the expense of students from the state of Texas.

8.  Shaune Stark said on Feb. 23, 2012

Race, gender, sexual orientation... none of these pieces of information should ever be on an admission form or even discussed in an admissions process. You might as well filter candidates based on their eye color. Gosh, since this is an educational institution, how about we just let in the most academically qualified candidates? Stop trying to socially engineer some ridiculous notion of "fairness" into a process that only requires justice! It is embarrassing to watch UT officials contort themselves while trying to justify either including less qualified candidates or excluding more qualified candidates based on what they look like, just to support their own vaguely defined, prejudiced vision of "diversity"...

9.  Ronald Buatte said on Feb. 23, 2012

As a returning VN Veteran, UT admitted me provisionally. While I had a family, worked full time, stayed in the USAR system. I was never a great student, however, I did graduate. I will always be gratefull to UT for for that opportunity. Sincerely, R.

10.  HAL G WOLFF said on Feb. 23, 2012

Very, very simple: discrimination = discrimination.

11.  Michael McDonald said on Feb. 23, 2012

Grutter v. Bollinger was a flawed decision almost certain to be reversed through the current Fisher appeal. Justice O'Connor's suggestion of a 25 year time period for racially-based admissions is likely the most obvious example of ignoring the Constitution in favor of promoting a desired outcome in the history of SCOTUS. UT should abandon further appeal and prepare admissions policy consistent with the 14th amendment.

12.  Dave Adcox said on Feb. 23, 2012

As an alumus of UT, it saddens me that we are fighting for the right to determine admissions based on the color of students' skin, rather than the content of their character. Can we honestly say it is fair to allow preference or exclusion based on that criterion? Wasn't that the problem with the Jim Crow laws that we found morally reprehensible?

13.  John L Pierce II said on Feb. 23, 2012

i've been very loyal but haven't been able to get my chil in, so she graduated from A&M;they have a loyalty factor. John Louis Pierce III will apply in 2028, get ready because he is in themajority minority WASP. JLP II

14.  Lydia miller said on Feb. 23, 2012

Curious about this case partly because my nephew was denied admission although in top nine percent and Anglo male.

15.  Russell Painton said on Feb. 23, 2012

This will never be a university of the first class as long as the student body is not that of the first class. Therefore, as long as UT insists on lowering its admission standards for a certain segment of the population, the student body will not be so qualified.

Further, I am not aware of any studies that have found that worshiping the false god of "diversity" produces any additional benefits toward the education of the student body at UT.

UT should cease the social engineering and confine itself to the task of educating the students. Further, It is embarrassing to see the university continuously being dragged thru the courts for its insistence on using racial preferences and and quotas for admission. I hope the Supreme court will end this habit once and for all.

16.  Sam Nettles said on Feb. 23, 2012

Since its inception, I have felt that Affirmative Action should provide that everything else being equal, the minority is selected. We need the best minds and the best students.

17.  Philemon said on Feb. 23, 2012

The University should ensure that best and brightest students from all areas are afforded the opportunity to have an education at the University of Texas. It is unfortunate that this conversation about admission is always framed around the idea that students of color are not as qualified as their white counterparts. Furthermore, this faulty logic also assumes that white students somehow have some sort of entitlement in the admission process. It wasn’t too many years ago that Heman Sweat sued for admission to the University. If we are going to embrace ‘What Starts Here Changes the World’, we will have to dismantle the stereotypes and biases that are very prevalent on our campus. We need to foster an environment of excellence in all classrooms and meeting spaces on campus. The University cannot sustain itself predominately white university. It will require collaboration among all to achieve a student body that is truly demographically reflective of Texas.

18.  Don Tucker said on Feb. 23, 2012

It's easy to say, "Let's leave race out of it," but you can't. As long as people of one race don't perform as well on one criterion of admission as those of another race, if you DON'T consider race in the admission process, you are implicitly engaging in racism. You need to consider racism in the admission process to OFFSET the racial bias that is already inherent in the other admission criteria.

19.  Tara Doolittle said on Feb. 23, 2012

RE: Eugenio Castillo

In 2009, the legislature approved a change (SB 175) to the Top Ten Percent Rule that allows universities to cap the share of students who are automatically admitted to 75 percent of the available spaces starting with the fall class of 2011. In the case of The University of Texas at Austin, that effectively puts the cut off this school year at the top 8 percent of Texas high school students. We still refer to the rule under the old name.

20.  Tim Hurst said on Feb. 23, 2012

The University is absolutly right. Diversity does not mean those that fall into its ranks are not as intellegent or any less an acadmic.

Texas is educating world leaders now. Good for the world and good for The University.

btw, a/m is basically at 5% and has one of the worst records of Tier One schools that foster diversity.

21.  James Miles said on Feb. 23, 2012

Diversity of skin color is different than diversity if ideas. Academia and the left (a distinction without a difference) confuse and correlate the two. They are not the same. I'm sure that UT, like most universities, can boast of a rainbow of skin colors among it's teachers. However, virtually all studies and surveys show that about 90% of academia is politically leftist. So where is the diversity? Diversity of ideas is the ONLY thing that matters. Skin color is irrelevant. I hope Fisher prevails.
BTW, you can all vote on this by NOT donating to the University and by sending an email to President Powers telling him why you are not donating.

22.  Current Student said on Feb. 23, 2012

These comments all bring up great points, and it seems that the majority of them are NOT on UT's side. I hope these will contribute to UT's self-examination regarding this, with their viewpoints being taken to heart, thereby resulting in a change of policy.

23.  Kristen said on Feb. 23, 2012

Admission should only be based on things the applicant can control. Simple as that.

24.  Robert Logan said on Feb. 23, 2012

You can spin just about anything you wish to make your point but, the fact is to consider race is racist so, be clear and honest . Quit trying to put the old Corporate spin on this. Oh, and Bill, please try and practice with the Q- cards a little more, you might actually come off as authentic.

25.  john said on Feb. 23, 2012

dear president powers,
if you and the rest of ut leadership truly believe that racial diversity is better for the university then how about the faculty racial diversity? tenure professor diversity? the football team ?the basketball team ?the track team ?
how about political diversity?

26.  Melvin L. Lampley said on Feb. 24, 2012

In 1967 when I entered the UT, there were approximately 300 entering African American freshmen amomg a 30,000 student body. That was the largest entering class for African-Americans at that time. Now, the UT student body better reflects the diversity of the State of Texas. It is amazing that the comments against affirmative action I read hear today, sound so much like those I heard in 1967. I

27.  James Baker said on Feb. 24, 2012

I just received a letter indicating that the ut business school receives donations from only 8 percent of graduates and this is very low for a top university...maybe the "holistic" approach to admissions has something to do with donations from past graduates...especially those of us who graduated a number of years ago...

28.  ncooty said on Feb. 24, 2012

Why is race still a proxy for privilege? Why do we tout diversity of ideas, but only promote diversity of pigmentation?

The judicial precedent is designed to fade to obsolescence as "race" alone becomes less of a compelling interest. If race is still a compelling interest, then affirmative action hasn't been working.

Let's shift to income-based affirmative action: privilege, not pigmentation.

29.  Don M said on Feb. 24, 2012

I saw discrimination in Texas in the '40's and '50's and was forced to accept integration with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I acknowledge that it is one of the best things this country has done in my lifetime. I was asked by all minorities and others not to see color when looking at my fellow man and I am glad to say that I learned to do so. Now, browns, blacks and others of different ethnic backgrounds (and many whites) see color on every consideration of who gets to do what, and even how to vote. I am confused. Are we going to be color blind or what?

30.  Bret said on Feb. 24, 2012

Long ago, reasonable minds in America rightly promulgated laws to protect classes of people inside this country who had long sufferred at the hands of other Americans, tragically. These same reasonable minds would have also envisioned an era when such protections might no longer be necessary or justified. This country has democratically and peacefully elected a President who is a member of a legally and constitutionally protected class. This occurrence is but one of thousands of factors and instances that our Supreme Court may consider or cite in dicta, but the Court has a duty to only consider the narrow facts of this particular case. Whatever the outcome during this time, our Article III check and balance is exactly what sets America apart from tyrranical regimes with no patience for peaceful debate, remedy, change, or transition. With racism, American society has evolved for the better. As such, jurisprudence and legislation will reasonably evolve, as well. Hook 'em, no matter what your politics.

31.  Richard said on Feb. 25, 2012

Some 30 years ago I was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University who was denied admission to the law school. That summer I worked with two students who were admitted, one a black female and the other a Latino female, both of whose academic records and test scores were ridiculously lower than mine. After all this time, the sting of that discrimination is still present and is certainly reflected in the donations I have not made to the University. Discrimination in the guise of "diversity" is odious.

32.  Rebecca Cathey Balsamo said on Feb. 26, 2012

Our two daughters, who were both in the top 10% of their classes and were leaders in many areas both inside and outside of their high schools, only received admission to UT on a provisional basis; that means that they would have been required to attend summer school prior to their freshman year in order to be accepted. They were, after all, 2 Anglo (white) girls born to 2 white parents--that is the reason I no longer donate to Ut, as I did each year prior to those incidents.

33.  J Schultz said on Feb. 27, 2012

I think that this university has a healthy balance of native Texans and Austinites, as well as out-of-state and international sudents. Certainly, I hope that admission would be based on race coupled with academic and personal achievements, as well as a willingness to learn. Not every applicant has their life figured out before coming to college, and some, once admitted, take advantage of all the opportunities this university has to offer and produce fantastic results.
To those who do not see the benefit of diversity in the university: Embracing students, faculty, and researchers of different backgrounds, origins, and cultures facilitates a holistic learning environment for the complex web of relationships between the position aforementioned, and, in turn, reflects back on the university with a wide-range of innovative and progressive thinkers. How can one expect to change the world if a university produces 50,000 students who all think alike? Having interacted with researchers and students from distant countries, I feel that I, as a student, have gained a lot of perspective in terms of my field of study, and also as a global thinker. The point is to impact the world, not just Austin, Texas, or the United States, alone.

34.  Boone said on Feb. 27, 2012

Throw AA out. The playing field is level now, race should have nothing to do with it. To support AA is to support reverse discrimination.

35.  Lee Ramirez said on Feb. 28, 2012

Obviously, the court seems poised to strike down the holistic admissions policy, for no better reason than the, admittedly conservative five justice majority, believes that the admissions policy does not comport with the original/textual meaning of the equal protections clause of the fourteenth amendment. Because, in the court's opinion, it places an undue burden upon individuals of caucasian descent--thereby indicating that a 'race based' discriminatory action, has taken place. However, what of merit? Is it not meritorious to emerge from a strategically disadvantageous position within our society? And as such, is this meritorious act unworthy of recognition? Or isn't it? Suppose that the university constructed its argument on substantive due process grounds? Could this type of construction comport with the original/textual meaning of the constitution? Also, what of the disconnect between the original/textual meaning of any single constitutional provision, and the common understanding of said provision? FInally, what of stare decisis? If the court, in its opinion on Grutter, originally stated that this paradigm would only hold for 25 years, then what does that say of the institution that is, the Supreme Court? I believe that Professor Perry's seminal work, "Deciding To Decide," shall enlighten us all: His central holding is that the court, as an institution, is both political and legal. Issuing a writ of certiorari is the equivalent of passing through the gate of constitutional interpretation... But who are the gatekeepers? The conservative five justice majority. According to our esteemed professor Smith, the rule of law must be followed, the concept must reasonably relate to the conception. In other words, the textual/original understanding, of the constitution, MUST BE the current meaning of any single constitutional clause. I respectfully disagree. For this is all a mere thought experiment, the constitutional experiment, and within the realm of human beings, and their attendant creations, a linear progression DOES exist. A progression from the original to the current. I believe that Ronald Dworkin calls this his chain novel methodology, but I would like to interpret it more as a tapestry. The tapestry of life, woven by us, for us, and of, us. In any case, the principle of stare decisis, or precedent, will be called into play; as well as the substance of merit. In any case, the University's defense, that Petitioner Fisher has no standing to bring suit, ought to be modified. Because the issuance of a writ solved that riddle, she has been wronged, the question is whether, or not, her wrong is, in its very essence, right. But seriously, drop the no standing argument, we, as an institution, are smarter than that. Go after substantive due process in the context of what constitutes meritorious recognition. Hook 'em Horns.

36.  Educated Critic said on Feb. 28, 2012

1) Did you know that race is one of 8 factors used to determine admissions? Why is race the only factor being complained about?

2) Given the opposition many White Americans have always had to affirmative action, how can we now declare it is a failure? We have never fully supported its implementation for a sustained amount of time. With a 400 year head start, it seems unlikely that race will be become less important in determining one educational opportunities in the near future.

3) Even within the "diversity of pigmentation" there exists a diversity of ideas. Persons of color come from a variety of backgrounds, so the argument made by ncooty seems to assume that since the same racial moniker is used these individuals will all be the same.

4) How is it automatically racist to consider race? Race is a pertinent factor in determining one's position on a variety of indices, including political access, familial wealth, individual income, and neighborhood and school quality. The only individuals that want to ignore the important role racism plays in these and other areas desire to obscure the consequences of living in a racialized society for over 400 years. Race matters, but we only get upset when it disrupts White American's access to their traditional position of privilege.

37.  Educated Critic said on March 1, 2012

1) Did you know that race is one of 8 factors used to determine admissions? Why is race the only factor being complained about?

2) Given the opposition many White Americans have always had to affirmative action, how can we now declare it is a failure? We have never fully supported its implementation for a sustained amount of time. With a 400 year head start, it seems unlikely that race will be become less important in determining one educational opportunities in the near future.

3) Even within the "diversity of pigmentation" there exists a diversity of ideas. Persons of color come from a variety of backgrounds, so the argument made by ncooty seems to assume that since the same racial moniker is used these individuals will all be the same.

4) How is it automatically racist to consider race? Race is a pertinent factor in determining one's position on a variety of indices, including political access, familial wealth, individual income, and neighborhood and school quality. The only individuals that want to ignore the important role racism plays in these and other areas desire to obscure the consequences of living in a racialized society for over 400 years. Race matters, but we only get upset when it disrupts White American's access to their traditional position of privilege.

38.  Chris said on March 4, 2012

By including race as a factor of admission the university is hypocritical in the sense that they are just lumping people of a certain race together in having the same sort of experiences. Why not remove the racial factor for admissions and replace it with more consideration for socio-economic status and background growing up? Then they university would be more likely to achieve their aim.

While race undeniably is an element of how an individual identifies themselves, it is completely unique for each individual. Thus, giving any preference to a student because they are a minority is merely a superficial look into who those people really are. Similarly it is completely wrong that a person can be labeled as "white", "black", or any of the few choices listed on the application. Are not "white" people made up of a huge number of ethnically different people? How is a "white" person who grew up on a ranch in west Texas in any way going to be more similar to a white person who grew up in downtown Houston, than a "black" person who also grew up in downtown Houston with similar socio-economic standards?

I would be classified as "multi-racial" and often am faced with questionnaires that don't let me say such. How dare they make me lump myself into one of their five choices in the name of diversity!

Diversity in thinking and ideas was something that made my time at UT special and was one reason I wanted to go to graduate school, but if there is to actually be true diversity, then something so superficial as race should not have anything to do with it!

39.  Cynthia said on March 5, 2012

Why is it that there are not enough minorities who are academically qualified without considerations? It seems simple to me. We are, and have always, attempted to solve these issues at the top, when the real problems lie at the bottom: k-12. As long as cities like Austin, Texas have "low performing" schools (which just happen to be in minority neighborhoods), these artificial means will be necessary. Sadly, if the students are not equally prepared, they will not be equally successful. The proof is in the pudding. Even WITH AA, there is still a need to insert artificial means into the system lo these many years later.

40.  Guillermo Aldana said on March 5, 2012

I am a UT Graduate, PhD 2002 under the guidance of the late Elmer Hixson (EE). I was in the 10% of my high school, in Baton Rouge Louisiana, but that school recently closed because it was unable to meet LA minimum standards. I was totally unprepared for college upon graduation, and attended LSU ( BS EE). I earned an admissions to UT Austin Engineering Department, based on my last two years of study. Let me assure you that while race may have played a part into admission, my guess is that I was an average entering UT graduate student, not a 3.0 or a 4.0 coming in, but some where in between. Part of the struggle was a language barrier, reading technical material was not easy with a limited vocabulary. As my reading and study habits improved, so did my grades. If my place took the admissio of a white applicant with similar credentials, that is affirmative action. There is nothing wrong with that, because looking back, i was the only naturalized US hispanic in any of my classes (the rest were highly qualified international students such as fullbrigh scholars - Dimas Portillo for example from Panama along with Suma Cum Lade from Peru - Julio Guerrero; who could have really gone anywhere in the country. Portillo became head of the Panama Canal and Guerrero is at MIT. I assure you that neither is there due to his background, because they were my peers. Anyone who does not think this add a tremendous reputation to UT Austin is mistaken. UT prepared all us very well. Adding me in the roster of graduate students is statistically insignificant when you compare to the number of students in the population. Once in the program - you have to compete. Period. Race is no longer relevant. UT graduate program has very high standards and the color of you skin becomes irrelevant to your professor, qualifying examination or defense. I am thankful for being admitted and having survived (I worked full time while obtaining my degree) the program at UT Austin. Please keep in mind that by allowing a diversity of students, UT serves its purpose, which is allow a diversity of students the opportunity to compete and obtain a graduate degree from an University that truly has a fantastic reputation in and out of academia and we try our best to return the "favor' and through our work ethic and dedication, put UT back in great light.

41.  J. said on March 6, 2012

Remember, only 1 out of 5 students isn't automatically admitted. This 20% is then looked at by what they want to major in, their scores, and their essay/accomplishments.

It's amusing how the assumption is that she didn't get into UT because of her race. But obviously she's not the 10% of her class. Maybe UT wants the super ballet dancer or the next astrophysicist over someone who wants a Liberal Arts education to become a Lawyer.

42.  Daniel said on March 11, 2012

Discrimination based on race or gender is so foul. Let's return to discrimination based solely on acedemic prowess.

43.  Blue A said on March 12, 2012

African-Americans make up barely 5% of UT's population. Factor in those that gained admission through athletics not for academics and tell me again how "diverse" we are. As an African-American student I can honestly walk around campus on my way to class and not see any other students of my race so please spare me of this nonsense "diversity" issue. I believe you earn your keep in this world. Affirmative Action doesn't work. If you make amazing grades you shouldn't worry about not getting into your dream school because you are not a certain race. get over yourselves. thank you.

44.  V. Ramo said on March 12, 2012

My daughter did "everything right" but did not get in to UT this year. MANY of her peers in the same high school - with lower grades, no AP courses, no extracurricular, etc. - did gain admission. If a student from a high achieving high school has all the right grades, scores, etc. but does not make 10% (even with a 4.3 average) then that student would be better off to have done less than more in order to fit this bizarre, nonsensical "holistic" model. This makes no sense whatsoever. It is literally to my daughter's detriment to have been an accomplished student, not in the 10%, and to apply to UT. She realizes it now, and her hard work seems to have been for nothing. Her non-achieving friends, who didn't want to bother with all the other bothersome necessities that are preached upon by guidance counselors ad nauseum to get into college, are the ones who are heading off to UT.

45.  Rae A. said on March 13, 2012

What people are missing is that race is ONE of many factors. Imagine for instance that you have two students with the same grades, one with a regular background, and one who grew up going from one foster home to another. Which one gets picked? Is it the one who is making those grades despite everyone around telling her that education is worthless and that college is a sham, the one who did not have any support at home but maintained a strong GPA and submitted an application against all odds? Or are you picking the student who was cool in High School anyway and has the same grades? Of course I cringe when race is used as a factor. Nevertheless you have to weigh all those things I mentioned above. Besides, African American represent less than 8% of UT. As mentioned above, if you remove the athletes (which everyone wants at UT), you are looking at maybe 5% of an AA population, being generous. That's 5%. How can you then feel so strongly wronged, when there are so few of us getting in UT anyway? Most of the times, when we African Americans pass each other on this 70000+ campus population, we more or less know each other, because we are truly a handful. I am not even talking about classes of 100s of students where you see 3 minority students sprinkled here and there. So even if race was solely a factor, if a Caucasian student could not get entry to UT because of race, that would mean they failed to be a part of the 92+% population of White accepted students, to the point where they ended up competing with the remaining 8% spots that the minorities were fighting for. Of course things are not exactly broken down like that, but I am trying to make a simple point. If an application reaches the point where it's denied and race played a factor, then it failed the other overwhelming odds that were in its favor.