Recent attack on affirmative action, top 10 percent rule misguided

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Irma Rangel was the first Latina elected to the Texas Legislature and the architect of the state’s top 10 percent rule. As a graduate research assistant for the Irma Rangel Public Policy Institute, I feel that it is my duty to defend the principles of equity and fairness from attacks like Hung’s.

Hung’s attack on the merits of Texas’ top 7 percent rule is woefully misguided for multiple reasons.

Hung unfortunately misunderstands the meaning of “underrepresented” minorities. Underrepresented can mean a variety of people, not just Latinos and African-Americans, as Hung’s simplistic portrayal suggests. 

Hung glosses over the fact that the top 7 percent rule also makes room for students from rural high schools who can be of any race, but of whom many are white. That said, a study last year by Lindsay Daugherty, Paco Martorell and Isaac McFarlin found that, contrary to popular belief, “students in the top 10 percent of their high school are more likely to be white and females and less likely to be low-income than their peers.” 

Second, in making the case that the University should admit “better students,” Hung points to the fact that those admitted under the top 7 percent rule have an average ACT score of 28, whereas those admitted outside the program have an ACT score of 30 — hardly a gulf!

One of the more troubling elements of Hung’s argument is that he compares the maintenance of the top 7 percent rule to the Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson, the decision to uphold the “separate but equal” regime. To compare the suffering of African-Americans in the Jim Crow South to the “plight” of middle- and upper-class students of today is at best naïve and at worst insulting to the descendants of those who suffered under the racial violence of that time.

Lastly, Hung peddles the same misguided conception of racism used by the “reverse discrimination” crowd. Hung, much like U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts himself, considers any and all consideration of race as racism without understanding the fact that racism is a system that considers race for the purpose of replicating and reinforcing hierarchies of power based on racial differences. 

How one can argue that it’s racist to let in racial and ethnic minorities who earned a spot at a great public university like UT in spite of structural inequalities like underfunded urban schools or underserved rural schools is beyond me. 

— Alvaro Corral, government graduate student, in response to Daniel Hung’s Monday column titled “Nix the top 10 percent rule, affirmative action.”