Consistent with University admissions over the last decade, campus diversity is at a characteristic low. While white students make up an uncontested plurality of students at 45 percent, Asian and Hispanic students matriculate at 17 and 19.5 percent, respectively, as rates of Black enrollment dwindle at 4 percent. Although the University has insisted that diversity is a top priority in admissions, even testifying to that effect before the Supreme Court, the numbers plainly suggest otherwise.
A substantial increase of Black students in the last couple decades from an abysmal starting place does not make UT a diverse institution. In the last decade, the percentage of Black UT students has hovered barely above or below 4 percent, while African-Americans make up 11 percent of Texans. If UT is attempting to increase diversity on campus, as it has stated as part of its defense in Fisher v. Texas, why has there been nearly no positive, lasting change in diversity at UT in a decade?
The top 10 percent rule was created in order to increase diversity at public institutions in Texas, like UT. Yet, as it is apparent in the case of UT, it is unsuccessful.
This issue extends to faculty recruitment, which perpetuates a standard of low diversity. In 2014, only 147 of UT’s 1,549 tenured teaching professors, or 9.49 percent, were Black or Hispanic.
A lack of minority voices on campus poses a number of problems, including increased pressure on professors of color to act as role models for students. Because of the sheer number of Caucasian faculty members, those professors don’t hold the same responsibility to be an active mentor to each of their white students.
The driving campus force for the removal of the Jefferson Davis statue was the creation of a more welcoming and inclusive campus climate. When Greg Fenves chose to remove it, he showed that the University is perfectly capable of making decisions for the purpose of creating a more tolerant campus. But as the rates of diversity show, it rarely chooses to make tangible decisions for this purpose. Furthermore, as the low four-year graduation rates for Black students demonstrate, not only does the University not do enough to get Black students here, it isn’t doing enough to support the students who are.
For a University which has defended its use of affirmative action to the Supreme Court, it does an astonishingly poor job of actually accomplishing anything. The University may claim to care about diversity, but it has chosen to only maintain the level that it is comfortable with, and that is not good enough.