Abigail Fisher and Rachel Michalewicz were both very strong students while in high school with resumes that most colleges would have accepted without question, so when they were denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin, they were shocked. After enrolling at different universities, the pair of white women came to the conclusion that their race was held against them in the admissions process, making them victims of discrimination.
Michalewicz had a 3.87 GPA and was ranked in the top 10.14 percent of her class. She scored 1290 on her SAT and was involved in the marching, concert and jazz bands. She also volunteered with the St. Vincent DePaul Food Bank and participated in a fishing event for handicapped children.
The University of Texas at Austin accepts students in the top ten percent of each Texas high school's graduating class, regardless of race, under its Top Ten Percent plan, also known as the Equal Protection Clause. 81 percent of the freshman classes were admitted under this plan at the University of Texas. The 25th and 75th percentiles of the incoming class’ SAT score at Texas were 1120 and 1370. In 2008, the freshman class of more than 6,600 included 1,713 African-American and Hispanic students.
Both of these students fit the requirements for acceptance but they were both denied admission. They sued the university because they believed that their rejections were racial issues. Both filed suit, alleging that the university had discriminated against them on the basis of their race in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
After being rejected from the University of Texas, Fisher enrolled at Louisiana State University while Michalewicz attended Southern Methodist University. Even though they both filed suit, Michalewicz withdrew from the case in 2011 due to a standstill, leaving Fisher as the sole plaintiff. Fisher was determined to get to the bottom of her case and never lost her drive and hope.
Opponents of the program say the university is practicing illegal discrimination by considering race at all, especially since the school achieves significant diversity through its race-blind admissions. Recently, the case went in front of the Supreme Court, but a final decision will come later in June. Retired Chief Justice John Roberts had a large impact in the case while in front of the Supreme Court.
He was concerned with the university’s definition of a “critical mass” of diversity and with the fact that race is self-reported on college applications and goes unchecked by universities. In the end, he was still questioning the university’s goals for its admission process and diversity in its student body.
University of Texas officials said that Fisher would not have been admitted even without the racial bias. Officials from the university argued that Fisher’s case is in vain because it cannot make up for her lost time at Louisiana State, from which she has already graduated.
As a young African-American male who will be going through the college process soon, I feel that the University of Texas was justified in its admissions policies. Each state university has to accept a certain amount of minority students in order to keep receiving state funding, and diversity is clearly a priority for schools across the country.
Also, by looking at the school’s requirements for admission, the two students in question were by no means overqualified. They seem to be right in the middle of the pack and have no reason to feel that they are guaranteed admission into the university, especially since they missed the “ten percent” cutoff.
Finally, universities should accept more minority students for diversity’s sake. I plan to go to a university with a notable black population because it will make me feel more comfortable and open, and I am grateful that universities make an effort to create those types of environments. The university is entitled to admit whoever they want, and there is no way to prove that the students were not admitted because of their race. At the end of the day, the Supreme Court will make the final decision, but all in all, plenty of qualified whites will enroll at the University of Texas for the foreseeable future, and none of them will be named Abigail Fisher.