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Fisher v. University of Texas: My Experience with Holistic Admissions

At the University of Texas at Austin, we take pride in our motto, “What starts here changes the world.” UT seeks to admit the best students to form classrooms where students learn as much from each other as they do from their professors. Holistic admissions is crucial to this and if we lose that in the Supreme Court case Fisher v.UT-Austin, then the students at UT, the state of Texas, and our nation will lose out on the greatness that UT’s classrooms cultivate.
 
Every day that I walk to class and every night that I walk home, exhausted from studying, I feel blessed to be a Longhorn. I am the first in my family to be on the path to graduate from college. I never knew my Chinese father and have only a handful of memories about my Black mother. My grandma raised me and always taught me to hold my head high regardless if we were making rent with Texas’s Section 8 rental assistance program or putting food on the table with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Those experiences are deeply with me in the classroom whether it be discussing W.E.B Dubois in a literature seminar or the Affordable Care Act in a political science class. Who you are, where you are from, and what you have been through do not disappear when you enter a classroom or write a paper. I would not have had this education without UT’s strong efforts to bring in as many diverse student perspectives as possible. This is not speculation – I know this from experience.
 
I was a State of Texas academic champion in debate, but the truth is that I wasn’t in the top ten percent of my class, and I would not have been accepted under UT’s non-holistic admissions process known as the “Top Ten Percent Rule.”  So, I left the southwest area of Houston, Texas for northeast Ohio when I graduated from high school. In Ohio, I felt displaced. Someone once told me she heard “black people have extra bones in their feet” or that “to be poor is to be lazy.” I began to think it would not be possible to engage in the advocacy work that I sought to do in Ohio. And, despite the few folks who I grew close to, the homogeneous student body was the greatest reason for me to leave and return to my home state of Texas.
 
A school like UT allows me to engage in more academic pursuits because of its size and prestige. I was a scholar in a great books program. I interned at a public interest law group and presented research on clemency cases involving Mexican Americans.  I’m director of operations at UT’s Students for Equity and Diversity, part of the Multicultural Engagement Center, under the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement. Those two entities embody the idea that UT should provide an outstanding education to all of Texas’s students and that all should feel welcomed; representatives of both signed on to the amicus brief [Link: http://aaldef.org/press-releases/press-release/aaldef-amicus-brief-supreme-court-uphold-race-conscious-admissions-university-texas.html] submitted by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund in support of UT in the Fisher Supreme Court case.
 
I have, by the way, achieved all of this as a student admitted to UT under holistic admissions.
 
This work has made college truly rewarding and has given me a vision for the work I want to do in the future. It is not a secret how UT has been able to provide an institution of academic excellence and a space where students like me can flourish and hope to become leaders. UT’s holistic admissions process allows it to select students that it knows will work to better the university and ultimately change the world.
 
I am currently ending my time at the University of Texas and undergraduate admissions decisions no longer directly affect me. I care about this issue, however, because my life has taught me that a good education is a way to provide a better life for yourself and your family. I look forward to the day when my grandma can hear me present my undergraduate thesis and see me walk across the stage to receive a degree with honors. There are many more students from communities like mine who deserve this opportunity as well. I hope that the Supreme Court will recognize that UT has achieved something special. Our motto has already been proven true by this case. I hope that what starts at Texas will continue to change the world for the better. Holistic admissions must be preserved so this is possible across the country.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

At the University of Texas at Austin, we take pride in our motto, “What starts here changes the world.” UT seeks to admit the best students to form classrooms where students learn as much from each other as they do from their professors. Holistic admissions is crucial to this and if we lose that in the Supreme Court case Fisher v. UT-Austin, then the students at UT, the state of Texas, and our nation will lose out on the greatness that UT’s classrooms cultivate. 

Every day that I walk to class and every night that I walk home, exhausted from studying, I feel blessed to be a Longhorn. I am the first in my family to be on the path to graduate from college. I never knew my Chinese father and have only a handful of memories about my Black mother. My grandma raised me and always taught me to hold my head high regardless if we were making rent with Texas’s Section 8 rental assistance program or putting food on the table with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). These experiences are deeply with me in the classroom, whether it be discussing W.E.B Dubois in a literature seminar or the Affordable Care Act in a political science class. Who you are, where you are from, and what you have been through do not disappear when you enter a classroom or write a paper. I would not have had this education without UT’s strong efforts to bring in as many diverse student perspectives as possible. This is not speculation -- I know this from experience. 

I was a State of Texas academic champion in debate, but the truth is that I wasn’t in the top ten percent of my class, and I would not have been accepted under UT’s non-holistic admissions process known as the “Top Ten Percent Rule.” So, I left the southwest area of Houston, TX, for northeast Ohio when I graduated from high school. But in Ohio, I felt displaced. Someone once told me she heard “black people have extra bones in their feet” or that “to be poor is to be lazy.” I began to think it would not be possible to engage in the advocacy work that I sought to do in Ohio. And, despite the few folks whom I grew close to, the homogeneous student body was the greatest reason for me to return to my home state of Texas. 

A school like UT allows me to engage in more academic pursuits because of its size and prestige. I was a scholar in a great books program. I interned at a public interest law group and presented research on clemency cases involving Mexican Americans. I’m Director of Operations at UT’s Students for Equity and Diversity, part of the Multicultural Engagement Center, under the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement. Those two entities embody the idea that UT should provide an outstanding education to all of Texas’s students and that all should feel welcomed; representatives of both signed on to the amicus brief submitted by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund in support of UT in the Fisher Supreme Court case. 

Photo courtesy of Joshua Tang

I have, by the way, achieved all of this as a student admitted to UT under holistic admissions. This work has made college truly rewarding and has given me a vision for the work I want to do in the future. It is not a secret how UT has been able to provide an institution of academic excellence and a space where students like me can flourish and hope to become leaders. UT’s holistic admissions process allows it to select students that it knows will work to better the university and ultimately change the world. 

I am currently ending my time at the University of Texas and undergraduate admissions decisions no longer directly affect me. I care about this issue, however, because my life has taught me that a good education is a way to provide a better life for yourself and your family. I look forward to the day when my grandma can hear me present my undergraduate thesis and see me walk across the stage to receive a degree with honors. There are many more students from communities like mine who deserve this opportunity as well. I hope that the Supreme Court will recognize that UT has achieved something special. Our motto has already been proven true by this case. I hope that what starts at Texas will continue to change the world for the better. Holistic admissions must be preserved so this is possible across the country.

***

Joshua Tang is a senior at the University of Texas at Austin where he studies government and history. He hopes to work on behalf of underprivileged children in the future.

 

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Kim Winn wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

When Sandra Day O'Connor

When Sandra Day O'Connor wrote the opinion for the landmark case Grutter V. Bollinger, she emphasized the necessity of narrowly tailored admissions to promote diversity in the classroom. Diversity would foster a better society and help uplift minorities. When one day minorities groups are finally on a leveled playing field, then the admission process should be changed.

For the most part, admissions to UT stems mainly from the top ten/eight percent rule. The few and far in between that do not make it, are then looked at a holistic basis. If the Supreme Court rules UT's admission process unconstitutional, the genetic make up of the university would change. The numbers of Caucasian and Asian would rise, while the percentage of other minority groups would decrease.

As an Asian American, I'm quite torn on how I feel about this court case. Is society ready for the admission process to change and what other implications could this have? Are minorities at an equal playing field?

No, definitely not in Texas. I want more Asian Americans to get accepted to UT but there's other issues I find far more pertinent.

It seems if UT's admission process is ruled unconstitutional, the top ten percent rule would be removed as well. That has far-reaching implications. The top ten admissions, was created to counter Texas' horrible public education system. In Texas, public education is funding by property taxes. The inner-city schools then get less funding than those in wealthier communities. Can you imagine going to one school that has an excessive amount of money (with all sorts of funding for extracurricular activities?) While, the school down the street can barely afford lab equipment? There's a disadvantage. The top ten/eight percent rules provides those that succeed academically in their community access to any Texas public university. This process helps counter an extremely unequal and unfair education system.

If the admission process is changed, those that come from crappy schools will have a tougher time getting into college. They'll have to compete with the surburbanite kids that go to SAT prep classes and whose school gives them all kinds of support with leadership positions and extracurricular activities.

Yes, merit is important. The chips are, however, stacked to favor a particular side in Texas-- and that's the wealthy.

The admission process helps alleviate inequality within race and wealth. That being said, I don't think Texas is ready to get rid of holistic admissions.

As a UT student, I have my own opinions about my school. I love it the way it is. I value diversity. I enjoy learning about other people's upbringing, struggles and cultures. I wouldn't want to go to a university where there's a homogenous population, where everyone came from the same background. Differences foster growth and progression. I hope the SCOTUS keeps it that way.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

Holistic Admissions Has Losers and Winners

Imagine that you were admitted to your top choice college but then your admission was revoked and given to someone else of equal or lower qualification because the college thought that it had enough people of your race(s). Would you still support holistic college admissions?

LTE wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

The issue on it's merits

"This is racism, pure and simple, and it must stop."
.
It will stop when people stop supporting politicians that support admission based on anything other than merit.
.
I will correct you on one point: Stop the use of the term "deserve". If you support admission on merit, then you EARNED your way in.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

Discrimination against Asian Americans

Affirmative Action is the only law in the USA that is still actively and openly racist against a specific group, in this case Asian Americans. Joshua, I'm very happy for you, and I'm glad things worked out for you. But think about all of the Asian Americans with a better resume than you (yes, including extracurricular activities) from a disadvantaged background who were denied admission because of this law. Think about this: with affirmative action, the son/daughter of a poor Asian family living in Chinatown, with the father working as a dishwasher and mother working as a house cleaner, has a lower chance of getting into UT than a black/hispanic son/daughter living in Beverly Hills, whose father is a doctor and mother has a lawyer. This is racism, pure and simple, and it must stop.

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