Rally continues discussion on diversity following Fisher case


Chelsea Purgahn

Lisa Guerra (far left), a junior history major and deaf student, speaks through her interpreter at the Rally to Support Diversity on the main mall Monday evening. Many students and a professor spoke at the rally to support various types of diversity and UT’s position on the Fisher v. Texas case.

Jordan Rudner

Although arguments in a U.S. Supreme Court case about affirmative action in UT’s admissions policies ended three weeks ago, campus discussions of diversity are far from over.

Several students and one professor spoke about the importance of diversity during the Rally to Support Diversity on the Main Mall on Monday evening. The rally was hosted by We Support UT, a coalition of student organizations that back the University’s stance in Fisher v. UT, a Supreme Court case that challenges the University’s use of race-conscious admissions procedures.

The event featured speakers from many student organizations, including the Black Student Alliance, Social Justice Coalition and Student Government.

Bradley Poole, president of the Black Student Alliance, said the rally was part of a larger effort to continue the momentum of the diversity discussion after the Fisher arguments.

“Even if the court doesn’t decide in favor of UT, that doesn’t mean diversity stops being important,” Poole said. “The University has made strides in diversity since its integration, but it still has a long way to go. [Discussions like this] ensure that we have students who are not just academically intelligent, but are socially intelligent as well.”
Taylor Carr, co-director of UT’s Social Justice Coalition, recounted her personal experiences growing up in Mansfield, where she said the public school system was one of the last in the nation to integrate.

Carr said her grades suffered in high school as a result of family issues and racism she experienced in the classroom.

“My sophomore year, my father was shot and my mother incarcerated,” Carr said. “Unsurprisingly, my grades reflected this.”

Carr said that as a result of this tumultuous period, her grades did not qualify her for admission under UT’s Top 10 Percent rule, which guarantees admission to the University based on high school class rank. She said she credits holistic review with her admission to UT.

“I am a product of holistic review and affirmative action,” she said. “Without UT’s admissions plan, students like me would never have had the opportunity to prove that we were qualified. I would have never been given the opportunity to contribute.”

Assistant English professor Snehal Shingavi said he believes the Supreme Court will strike down UT’s affirmative action program when it delivers its ruling this summer. If that happens, Shingavi said students must re-evaluate their course of action if they want to maintain a diverse student population.

“We need to prepare ourselves for the coming fight,” Shingavi said. “We need to ask ourselves how the fight for affirmative action was won the first time, because we’ve come to take it for granted. We’re going to have to march in the streets.”

Printed on Tuesday, October 30, 2012 as: Diversity talks continue weeks after Fisher case