Virtual town hall discusses Fisher v. Texas verdict


Although most of the UT community is not on campus for the summer, students representing various ethnic communities at UT mulled the recent Fisher v. UT court decision handed down last month in a virtual town hall. 

Hosted by We Support UT, a student coalition that supports the University's use of affirmative action in admissions, the discussion focused on what will change now that the Supreme Court has weighed in on affirmative action and the racially charged atmosphere at UT. 

Student moderators invited legal representatives to attend the online discussion to answer questions and told students to send in questions via Twitter using the hash tag #WSUT.

“This is about us as students," government senior Cortney Sanders said. "We are the most effected by what happens."

In a 7-1 decision released in June, the U.S. Supreme Court sent the case to be heard by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals once more. The case is brought on by Abigail Fisher, a white applicant who claims she was denied admission to UT in 2008 because of her race. 

UT currently admits more than 70 percent of its students under automatic admissions to high school seniors who graduate in the top ten percent of their class. About 20 percent of students are admitted under holistic admissions, which include race as a factor, as well as personal achievements and academics.

Students who engaged in the online discussion included Sanders, a member of UT's Black Student Alliance, and Student Government Vice President Michael Williams. 

We Support UT held multiple teach-ins throughout the year to educate students on the Fisher case and the benefits of affirmative action, coalition leaders said. 

“It’s our duty to ensure students after us can benefit from coming to a first-class university like Texas," history senior Josh Tang said. 

Legal defense fund lawyers from the African American, Hispanic and Asian American communities also attended. Kim Song, from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, explained what the decision meant and the roles of the different organizations.

"UT-Austin does not need to change its admissions policy and nor does any other school in the nation," said Damon Hewitt, a lawyer from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense Fund. 

David Hinojosa, a lawyer with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said diversity has historically decreased when Texas courts have decided to throw race out of the admissions criteria. 

"Some students did not want to come to UT because they were afraid no one will look like them," said Chad Stanton, a UT alumnus and former Black Student Alliance president.

Stanton said that this was a problem for a university that wishes to create a diverse population.

Although Texas currently has the Top Ten Percent Rule in place to create diversity, Hinojosa said the rule is not as effective it needs to be.

The Fifth Circuit Court has not yet released the next court date for the Fisher case.