“A marginal candidate who gets rejected by UT can always enroll in ROTC at Texas A&M or Texas Tech,” Justice Samuel Alito.
You might not be aware of this if you’re reading this somewhere else, but them’s fighting words in the Lone Star state.
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, a Yale man by way of Princeton and former Army captain, made the above statement in a
hearing earlier today before the court concerting the case Fisher v. University of Texas. The case, brought by Abigail Fisher and Rachel Michalewicz (Michalewicz left the suit in 2011) in 2008 after being denied admission to the school, could overturn
a 2003 5-4 decision by the court that said affirmative action at universities might be necessary for another quarter-century to ensure that classrooms reflect the nation’s racial diversity.
The girls, both white, argued that the university – which operating under Texas House Bill 588, better known as the “Top 10% Rule” passed in 1997 and guarantees Texas students who graduated in the top ten percent of their high school class automatic admission to all state-funded universities – discriminated against them on the basis of their race in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Both fell short of the top percent, despite otherwise glowing qualifications, including a relatively high SAT score for the time of 1290 by Michalewicz (to go along with her top 10.14 percent class ranking) and an impressive extracurricular resume by Fisher (1180 SAT), who finished in the top 12 percent of her high school class. Accomplishments aside, not meeting the golden number put the young women in the pool of students where talents, leadership qualities and family circumstances as well as race were considered as part of the admissions process.
The consideration of race in college admissions is a hot topic and one that is always open for debate. Proponents argue that diversity is crucial for everything from the survival of the economy to our own continued sovereignty as a nation. Opponent’s say take the best-of-the-best based on numbers and call it a day. Compromises like the “Top 10% Rule” rarely work out to anyone’s liking.
No matter what your inclination any decision meted out by the court on the issue will have far-reaching consequences and anyone with any interest in higher education or American education in general should follow the hearing closely.
As for myself, a University of Texas graduate and a minority, I’m more concerned about the firestorm Justice Alito may have unleashed in my own home state. When Texas A&M left the Big 12 it shook the state. More vitriol was wasted on the fact that one of the longest running, and in my opinion best, rivalries in college football was over. The Longhorns were vilified for being too high highfalutin by some Aggies, while more than a couple of T-Sips I know– as graduates and fans of A&M like to refer to UT student and alumni – accused the Aggies of being a bunch of dumb rednecks, tired of playing second fiddle to the best university in the state and just dumb enough to head to the SEC and get crushed on the football field yearly.
That’s neither here nor there for me. I’ve got plenty of friends on both sides of that pasture, but while I feel personally that the University of Texas at Austin is the superior school there’s no reason for Justice Alito to go poke a sleeping bear. The amount of intra-state whining you no-doubt unleashed with this statement will bring down parties, serve as fodder for those who wish to divide and in some rare cases maybe even divide families.
So, for the remainder of the hearing it would be nice if you used that Ivy League education to think of a nicer way to say something like that – or maybe not say it at all. Us T-Sips might make jokes about Aggies being dumb, but even they know when they are being insulted.
And, some advice, they might agree with your politics for the most part and you might have been appointed to the bench by the son of the man whose presidential library they host, but don’t think for a minute the next time you’re in College Station that the Aggies will forget this. Watch your step and livestock, if you happen to have any.