Abby Fisher won a recent case against Affirmative Action in college admissions. She claimed she was qualified to be admitted, and that lesser qualified students received preferential treatment due to race.
Except that is not true. Therefore, that strikes me as fraud, as a pretext to undo legislated efforts at greater equality by right wing racists – and their token black conservative, “Uncle Tomming” Clarence Thomas. At the same time, it played on fears held by racists on the right, no matter how factually wrong those fears are. It played on the factually inaccurate notion that has been promoted that affirmative action ‘discounted’ his Yale law degree, which is how he explains his inability to get a job after graduation, before becoming a right wing political hack for his entire career. The OTHER affirmative action admitted students to Yale Law did not have trouble being hired by prestigious firms, which disproves the notion that the fault was in affirmative action. Thomas voted against his own direct experience, also on a factually deficient basis, coming down, as he always does, not in an independent decision on merit and fact, but being reliably right wing in the extreme.
Compared to other students admitted, Fisher was NOT a competitive student; and of the very few students who were admitted with poorer grades, they rated better in terms of other criteria, and overwhelmingly, most were white. In the larger context of much increased interest rates for student loans, which also disproportionately affect minority students, this seems to be an attempt to make it easier for affluent white students to get into college, by suppressing minority competition on the basis of merit for those admission positions.
The premise of Affirmative Action is to create greater equality between the advantaged and the disadvantaged or less advantaged, those who have had lesser opportunities. That there are more whites attending college than minorities, both in total numbers and as a percentage, compared to other groups by race is clear in a report from the National Center for Education Statistics of the Institute of Education Sciences titled “Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Minorities”.
In 2008, about 72 percent of recent White high school completers were enrolled in college in that same year, up from 50 percent in 1980. In addition, the immediate transition to college rate was higher in 2007 than the rate in 1980 for Blacks (56 vs. 44 percent) and for Hispanics (62 vs. 50 percent) (indicator 23.1).
Between 1999 and 2000, Hispanics surpassed Blacks as the country’s largest racial/ethnic group other than Whites, and the population of Hispanics continued to grow at a faster rate than the overall population through 2008 (indicator 1). In 2008, Hispanics represented 15 percent of the total U.S. population. In the Western United States, in 2008, the percentages of the population who were Hispanic, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaska Native, and persons of two or more races were higher than the national percentages. New Mexico, California, and Texas had the highest percentages of the population who were Hispanic (ranging from 36 to 45 percent).
As of the 2010 census, “whites” or “European Americans”, comprised 72.4% of the U.S. population. So you have, conveniently, 72% of the 72% of the population that are white attending college. Any way you care to play with the numbers, that is more white students than students of color. And more women were represented in college enrollment than males, per the same report quoted above:
In 2008, females made up 57 percent of undergraduate enrollment. The difference between male and female enrollments was largest for Black students, with females accounting for 64 percent of Black undergraduate enrollment in 2008.
I’m assuming I don’t need to document here the well-established data that in spite of the advances made, minorities still are more adversely affected by the negative economic factors, like unemployment and poverty, than whites — those things that usually determine relative advantage to disadvantage.
Abby Fisher claimed she was treated badly by not getting into the college of her choice, that she was better qualified, but that preferential treatment was given to less qualified students based on race. The conservative wing of the SCOTUS ruled in her favor even though her claim was not true or factual, and it was played for the maximum claim of victimization that we so often see from conservatives, a singularly whiny bunch:
“There were people in my class with lower grades who weren’t in all the activities I was in, who were being accepted into UT, and the only other difference between us was the color of our skin,” she says. “I was taught from the time I was a little girl that any kind of discrimination was wrong. And for an institution of higher learning to act this way makes no sense to me. What kind of example does it set for others?”
As noted in a recent Atlantic article, “Race Didn’t Cost Abigail Fisher Her Spot at the University of Texas”:
In the hundreds of pages of legal filings, Fisher’s lawyers spend almost no time arguing that Fisher would have gotten into the university but for her race.
Race probably had nothing to do with the University of Texas’s decision to deny admission to Abigail Fisher.
In 2008, the year Fisher sent in her application, competition to get into the crown jewel of the Texas university system was stiff. Students entering through the university’s Top 10 program — a mechanism that granted automatic admission to any teen who graduated in the upper 10 percent of his or her high school class — claimed 92 percent of the in-state spots.
Fisher said in news reports that she hoped for the day universities selected students “solely based on their merit and if they work hard for it.” But Fisher failed to graduate in the top 10 percent of her class, meaning she had to compete for the limited number of spaces up for grabs.
She and other applicants who did not make the cut were evaluated based on two scores. One allotted points for grades and test scores. The other, called a personal achievement index, awarded points for two required essays, leadership, activities, service and “special circumstances.” Those included socioeconomic status of the student or the student’s school, coming from a home with a single parent or one where English wasn’t spoken. And race.
Those two scores, combined, determine admission.
Even among those students, Fisher did not particularly stand out. Court records show her grade point average (3.59) and SAT scores (1180 out of 1600) were good but not great for the highly selective flagship university. The school’s rejection rate that year for the remaining 841 openings was higher than the turn-down rate for students trying to get into Harvard.
As a result, university officials claim in court filings that even if Fisher received points for her race and every other personal achievement factor, the letter she received in the mail still would have said no.
It’s true that the university, for whatever reason, offered provisional admission to some students with lower test scores and grades than Fisher. Five of those students were black or Latino. Forty-two were white.
Neither Fisher nor Blum mentioned those 42 applicants in interviews. Nor did they acknowledge the 168 black and Latino students with grades as good as or better than Fisher’s who were also denied entry into the university that year. Also left unsaid is the fact that Fisher turned down a standard UT offer under which she could have gone to the university her sophomore year if she earned a 3.2 GPA at another Texas university school in her freshman year.
In an interview last month, Blum agreed Fisher’s credentials and circumstances make it difficult to argue — as he and his supporters have so ardently in public — that but for her race Fisher would have been a Longhorn.
“There are some Anglo students who had lower grades than Abby who were admitted also,” Blum told ProPublica. “Litigation like this is not a black and white paradigm.”
It seems a pretty fair statement that the angry white guy who funded this court case, one of many, wants to reverse the gains made by anyone who is not white, and affluent. The anger at diversity, the anger in support of white supremacy, has been well documented on the right. This is that hatred made manifest. They want white domination, and to hinder minority competition, in every way they can.