Should race be a factor in admissions decisions? It is for this school — which found itself defending discrimination charges in court.
When deciding whether to admit applicants, officials at the University of Texas at Austin consider a broad range of factors.
Included among the factors are “special circumstances,” such as the applicant’s socio-economic status, whether he lives in a single-parent home and whether languages other than English are spoken at home.
To help boost minority enrollment, the school added race as a special circumstance in 2005.
Two white females who were denied admission last year claimed the school’s admissions policies and procedures discriminated against them based on their race and violated their equal protection rights.
The court didn’t buy it. It said the school has a compelling interest in creating a diverse student body. Relying heavily on a 2003 Supreme Court ruling, the court said the school took reasonable steps to meet that goal.
When is a public university’s student body diverse enough? When it has a “critical mass” of minority students — that is, enough to “assure educational benefits deriving from diversity,” the court said.
Cite: Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin.
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