The numbers count

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In a reply brief Abigail Fisher filed Sept. 5 with the U.S. Supreme Court, her lawyers argue UT defendants engage in “doublespeak.” Fisher is the plaintiff who in 2008 was denied admission to the University and sued UT for race discrimination in a case scheduled to be argued before the high court next month.

In the reply brief, Fisher’s lawyers state that UT defendants have argued “race is only a ‘factor of a factor of a factor of a factor’ in the scoring of applications.” But, the Fisher lawyers argue, “by comparing percentages of students of different races in the total state population to those in UT’s student population to determine which races are ‘overrepresented’ or ‘underrepresented,’ the University is effectively using a quota system.”

Earlier, in a brief filed Aug. 6, UT lawyers argued that the Top Ten Percent law “does not foreclose the individualized consideration of race in UT’s holistic review process,” and that “UT had a sufficient basis to conclude that adding race to its holistic review promoted its compelling interest in diversity.”

The numbers the UT admissions office has scheduled to release in the coming days, which will describe the racial composition of the 2012-2013 freshman class, could address those two viewpoints. Look to see if UT identifies by race the numbers of students admitted through the automatic Top Ten Percent law and those admitted through UT admissions officers use of holistic methods that include consideration of race.

Fisher’s claims about UT’s “doublespeak” could hinge on the racial composition of the pool of students admitted through its holistic process.

The numbers to be released this week will provide a clearer picture of who is admitted to UT and how the arguments to be made before the Supreme Court in October.