Following the expulsion of two University of Oklahoma students earlier this month, the National Association of Scholars alongside the Pacific Legal Foundation, Project 21 and various other groups, have filed a friend-of-the-court brief asking the United States Supreme Court to take another look at the University of Texas’s admissions policies. A lawsuit was filed in 2008 by Abigail Fisher challenging UT’s admission policy and its ‘inconsistency’ with the 2003 Grutter ruling in regards to race and admissions.
The Grutter ruling stated that universities had an interest in ensuring that:
“minority students do not feel isolated or like spokespersons for their race; to provide adequate opportunities for the type of interaction upon which the educational benefits of diversity depend; and to challenge all students to think critically and re-examine stereotypes.’”
As of 2014, UT’s student demographic showed 45% of students being white, 23% of students being Asian and with black students at just 4% of the total students enrolled for that year.
The courts have sided with UT multiple times during the Abigail Fisher case, but information from a report released last month has come to light regarding some applicants being admitted to the University of Texas despite objections from the admissions office.
“While claiming to evaluate applicants on their academic and personal achievements, as well as race, the University actually admitted substantial numbers of students who were flagged by its president for special treatment, regardless of their ‘holistic’ scores,” the brief says. “Its own report on this hitherto secret track of ‘holistic review’ concludes that race and ethnicity were an ‘important consideration’ in these decisions, which resulted in the admission of students with scores and achievements substantially below those of other applicants.”
Further reasons as to why UT has such a low level of minority enrollment are remain under speculation, although the Daily Texan Online reports that many students say that the primary source of fear for students of color comes from disturbing incidents during social settings such as the one at the University of Oklahoma.
Students are often uncomfortable with how these incidents are handled by schools, with UT responding to a recent ‘bleach bombing’ of Fijian students at a party with nothing but a statement. Incidents like these may make minority students feel that they are not welcome. Current student and aerospace engineering freshman Cameron Rose agrees:
“Before I came to UT, I read [the reports of] bleach balloons being thrown at students,” Rose said. “If people are reading about that as they’re applying, it causes a seed of doubt in minority students.”
Changes to the minority applicants’ mindsets may encourage a higher enrollment in future, as well as better treatment for these students once they’re accepted.