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Fisher Case Isn’t Over: Asian Americans Continue Fight for Affirmative Action at University of Texas

Emil Photo Again Edited 61b7dabb61239

The fight isn’t over yet.

And those in favor of affirmative action are ready to defend it.
Asian American affirmative action advocates have already filed their amicus brief in support of UT’s “Top Ten” policy as the legal battle continues this week in a Texas appeals court.

On behalf of the student association Asian Desi Pacific Islander American Collective (APAC) and the Asian/Asian American Faculty and Staff Association (AAAFSA) at the University of Texas at Austin, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) filed the amicus brief in support of UT-Austin’s affirmative action policy in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Texas.

“UT’s admissions process is narrowly tailored to encourage both diversity and individualized treatment of Asian American applicants, many of whom face severe social and economic disadvantages akin to Black and Latino students,” said Thomas Mariadason, staff attorney at AALDEF in a released statement. “The benefits of a constitutionally sound affirmative action policy that can consider factors such as refugee status and language spoken at home are clear—at UT—and at universities across the nation.”

“Affirmative action is about increasing diversity on our campus and giving minority students a fair chance,” said Nicholas Chan, UT-Austin student and director of Political Engagement at APAC, from a news release. “Only a few years ago, all minority groups combined didn’t even make up half of the student population. UT’s admissions policy has helped change that. Asian American students at UT and all universities come from many different backgrounds and have different levels of access to resources. Race can shape who we are and what we contribute to our campus. We should not be denied the opportunity to have our full stories considered in college applications.”

You’ll recall that Fisher challenged UT Austin’s use of a “Top Ten” policy where the top 10 percent of high school graduates were given automatic admission.

For those outside that ranking, the school used a matrix to determine admission that included multiple factors—like campus activities, socioeconomic status and race. Indeed, the process was fashioned to comply with the existing law set by the Grutter v. Bollinger decision of 2003.

But Fisher, a white student, used Asian Americans specifically to demonstrate the weakness of the program, saying that Asian Americans were harmed while the process benefited Hispanics.

The Asian American organizations’ brief states the reality: that narrowly tailored, individualized admissions program’s like UT’s actually benefited not only Asian American applicants, but applicants from all backgrounds.

Indeed, the UT program disaggregates Asian Americans in particular and helps admissions officers see the unique experiences of Asian American subgroups in a way that goes beyond detrimental stereotypes.

You can read the brief here:


Emil Guillermo writes on issues of race for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (  Like him at ; twitter@emilamok

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