Affirmative Action? Or White Entitlement?

Supreme Court to Hear Case on Affirmative Action – NYTimes.com.

Long story short: A young white woman, Abigail Fisher, applies to UT Austin and is not admitted. She argues that her merits were not considered, but that her application was denied because she is white.

Her argument is flawed. Three-quarters of the incoming class at UT Austin are admitted under a ruling previously approved by the Supreme Court, under which the top ten percent of each graduating class in all Texas high schools are automatically admitted, on their merits. Ms. Fisher did not make this cut. Nor did she make the cut for the remaining one-quarter of the slots, which are filled by a selection process that attends to — among other things — “economic background, first generation, geography, inner city, suburban middle class.” Oh, and racial identity. Ms. Fisher is sure it was the racial identity that kicked her out of the process. I’m not sure how she could know that. The university demurs, claiming that “would not have been admitted even if race had played no role in the process.”

But race is the one variable she can pick on and find willing lawyers to argue about, all the way to the Supreme Court, which is willing to hear the case, even though they have already ruled UT’s approach constitutional, and even though the only stake in the case is a $100 application fee refund.

Or is that the only stake? Perhaps what is really at stake is a sense of white entitlement to education at a particular institution, and to all the privileges that education helps to reinforce. As Ms. Fisher says, “Just being in a network of U.T. graduates would have been a really nice thing to be in. And I probably would have gotten a better job offer had I gone to U.T.” Well, you know what? I applied to Harvard, back in the day. Just being in a network of Harvard graduates would have been a really nice thing to be in. And I probably would have gotten a better job offer had I gone to Harvard. But Harvard had other priorities. Just because getting into Harvard would have been a really nice thing for me, that doesn’t mean I’m entitled to it.

But apparently some folks on the Supreme Court think differently. We’ll find out how differently. Rest assured, if they don’t throw this case out on its lack of merit, somebody somewhere has an agenda to push, and is using Ms. Fisher to get there.

That agenda may match Ms. Fisher’s: “I don’t think that we even need to have a race box on the application.”

Right. Because then she wouldn’t know which of the many variables caused her not to be selected for the incoming class at the University of Texas at Austin.

(Wait for it ….)

Right. The fact is, Ms. Fisher doesn’t know, even with a “race box,” and she wouldn’t know without a “race box,” because it’s just one of the variables considered.

The one variable that she can contest all the way to the Supreme Court.

Distress of the Privileged? I do believe.

Kind of ironic, isn’t it? Attacking the very institution you want to be part of? On the grounds that help it to be the institution you admire for its success in preparing people to excel? You know, because they know how to work with real people in the real world, including people whose different life experiences bring valuably different perspectives and knowledge bases to the table?

Ms. Fisher has an excuse; she’s 22 and has lots to learn. The Supreme Court, on the other hand, well, I think they have an agenda. We’ll see how it plays out.

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