At the University of Texas, Concern Over an Affirmative Action Case

Black students at the Austin campus say it is critical for the Supreme Court to uphold an admissions policy that allows race to be taken into account.

Posted: 04/01/2013 06:08 PM EDT

While the United States Supreme Court is deliberating on a case that could well reshape or reaffirm the course of affirmative action programs, African-American students at the university at the core of the case say it is crucial that their school’s admissions practices remain intact.

The court is expected to rule in its current term on a case involving a race-conscious admissions policy at the University of Texas at Austin, where a white female student insists that she was passed over for acceptance at the university’s graduate school because of its policy of promoting applicants who are African-American, Latino and Asian.

If the university loses the case and the admissions policy is struck down, it would result in fewer African-American and Latino students being accepted not only on the Austin campus, but virtually every elite college and graduate school, both opponents and proponents of the policy say.

“We are hoping for the best and preparing for the worst,” said Reva Davis, a junior majoring in African and African diaspora studies, in an interview with BET.com.

Davis, who is vice president of the Black Student Alliance at the University of Texas, said that most minority students believe “that it is important for the admissions policies to remain the way they have been.”

If the policy is overturned, she said, “we will have some work to do to make sure that people who look like us will still be able to experience being a student on this campus. But it is extremely important that students who look like us will continue to have these kinds of educational opportunities.”

The case, Fisher v. University of Texas, was brought by Abigail Fisher, a white student who maintains that the University of Texas bypassed her application because of her race. And Black and Latino students at the University of Texas and throughout the country are worried that the court will decide to dismantle any policy where race is taken into account in admissions.

And while the issue is resonating with minority students nationwide, it is a particularly important area of concern on the Austin campus.

“There is something of a consensus among the African-American students here that she has not looked at this through the proper perspective,” said Cameron Whitaker, a junior from Houston majoring in broadcast journalism, in an interview with BET.com.

“This is a campus with 50,000 students and we make up about only 4 percent of the school’s population,” Whitaker said. “She is blaming her inability to get accepted on race. But she is discounting the efforts and achievements of minority students to get accepted into this school. And they are students who, for the most part, have not had the advantages that she has had.”

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(Photo: AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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