Changing The Process
A court case involving college admission based on race could have repercussions that reach farther t
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 12, 2012 04:10
A Supreme Court case may change how Plattsburgh State handles the admissions process.
Abigail Fisher, a Caucasian Texas resident, is suing the University of Texas on grounds of racial discrimination after she was not accepted by the university.
Associate Director of Admissions Carrie Woodward said, depending on the outcome of the court case, PSUC may need to review and/or change its policies regarding affirmative action.
Woodward said, however, it is difficult to speculate exactly how much will have to change without knowing the outcome of the case.
Fisher, who recently graduated from Louisiana State University, brought the case to the Supreme Court Sept. 19, 2011, and the case was set to be decided Wednesday.
As of Thursday afternoon, the Supreme Court had yet to make a decision on the case.
According to an Associated Press article, Fisher sued the university because she was denied access and “a handful of African-American and Latino students … were admitted with lower scores than hers.”
PSUC Affirmative Action Officer Lynda Ames said she would side with the University of Texas. She said there needs to be diversity in the college setting.
Ames said that, though her expertise is mainly affirmative action in employment, she follows cases such as this one.
She said the top 10 percent of every high school class in Texas, regardless of race or gender, was automatically accepted into the university.
“If she was in the top 10 percent of her class,” she said, “she’d be in.”
Ames said colleges generally look at a variety of things while considering whom they should accept, and for Fisher to focus only on race is unfair.
She gave the example of athletes who may have been accepted for sports but may not have been the best students.
“Why isn’t she picking on them,” Ames said.
She said, though Fisher was not allowed to go to the University of Texas, she still received an education.
“She (Fisher) went to LSU,” Ames said. “She was not denied a good school.”
Woodward said the college looks at a number of criteria when considering a candidate for admission to PSUC. She said the main criterion is academic preparation, meaning grades, test scores and extracurricular activities. However, the SUNY system and PSUC have a commitment to diversity.
Woodward said the admissions office looks at underrepresented peoples when deciding who will be accepted into PSUC. This means underrepresented ethnic groups, low-income students and first-generation students, she said.
She also said PSUC accepts many international students, which helps with the diversity at the college.
Woodward said it is beneficial for students to be introduced to diversity at the college level because it prepares them to enter the real world, which is itself very diverse.
J.W. Wiley, director of the Center for Diversity, Pluralism and Inclusion, said he finds affirmative action to still be a viable program and necessary to ensure that every American is allowed the opportunity to take advantage of the American dream..
“Some people have deemed it (affirmative action) as an evil,” Wiley said, “but it is a necessary evil.”
He said society becomes better when there is diversity. Affirmative action helps ensure this.
“It’s designed to level the playing field,” Wiley said.
He said he is not surprised that Fisher has brought the University of Texas to court because there are always people who try to challenge affirmative action laws.
“This is not a new conversation,” Wiley said.
He said people do not realize that affirmative action does not focus only on race, but the government has programs that affect other groups.
For example, Wiley said, Social Security is a type of affirmative action. It gives aid to those who are at a disadvantage. It levels the playing field.
He said diversity on PSUC’s campus has improved the campus greatly.
Wiley said that looking at the way the campus is, if people go out and connect with others who are different ethnically or culturally, there is a good chance that there will be no need for Affirmative action in the next 20 years. However, it still is needed now.