The United States Supreme Court is hearing arguments Wednesday in the most important civil rights case to come before the justices in the past six years: a challenge to the use of race as a factor in admissions at the University of Texas.
The case involves Abigail Fisher, a white woman who applied to the school in 2008. Fisher claims though her academic credentials were superior to some minority applicants who were admitted to the University of Texas, Fisher was not. She claims her race prevented her from getting accepted and she's suing the university.
The hearing has renewed a debate at San Jose State University about which factors should be considered during admissions.
“I don't think race should be a factor in admission. If people put the effort into their education they should be able to go on to college no matter who they are and their background”, said student Keith Sheppard.
“I think when people are admitted it is important we have a variety of backgrounds so we have different cultures around here” said student Alli Bernard.
In a “friend of the court” brief filed with the Supreme Court, UC President Mark Yudof, along with ten other chancellors told the court it supports using race as a determining factor in admissions.
“Implementing race neutral policies leads to a substantial decline in the proportion of entering students who are African American...American Indian and Latino”, argued Yudof.
California has experience with the impact of banning race from state university admissions decisions. In 1996, voters approved prop 209 which banned the practice. The supreme court decision, regardless of how the justices rule, will not affect that ban. Santa Clara University Law School Professor Margaret Russell says still, the fact the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case may impact Californians in the long run by renewing the debate on the role race plays in college admissions.