What Do Student Journalists Say About Fisher v Texas?

Glenn Ricketts

The US Supreme Court recently granted certiorari in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, which challenges the university’s undergraduate admissions program.  That made us happy, as we indicated in this press release.  Consistent with our bedrock stand against preferences of any kind except for qualified applicants, we’ve signed onto the amicus brief filed on Fisher’s side of the case by the Pacific Legal Foundation.

You can’t ever take for granted what the court’s going to decide in any particular case, but this one has major potential to undo some or a lot of the damage wrought by the surprise 2003 ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger, and that’s certainly the outcome we’re hoping for.  The die is cast, and we should know by June in what looks to be another close ruling, made somewhat more uncertain by Justice Kagan’s recusal from Fisher.   Recall that she served as Solicitor General prior to her appointment to the Supreme Court, and in that capcity had worked on the case.

Today, we’d like to offer a random survey of student journalists and editors on the case:  what do they have to say about it?  Some recent op-eds and opinion pieces follow below. 

  1.  Several papers confined their coverage to generalized news items.   At the Yale Daily News  - here - and the Michigan Daily here - , a couple of staff writers offer descriptions of the Fisher case, with a run-down of the issues and possible implications of the outcome. 
  2. That was also pretty much the case at the University Daily Texan, the student paper at the very school under challenge by petitioner Abigail Fisher.  Here, an op-ed writer explains that there is a lot to consider and urges readers to approach the case thoughtfully.  An interesting comments thread follows. 
  3. The editors of the Harvard Crimson weigh in on the side of their school’s judicious use of racial preferences, which they argue ensures that Harvard will not be a preserve of economic and social elites.  A number of commenters take issue, and note that most students admitted on the basis of racial identity come from upper middle class backgrounds. 
  4. Across the street at MIT, the Dean of Admissions explains that every student admitted to the Institute deserves to be there, and extols the effects of policies that produce a “diverse” student body.  
  5.  A guest columnist for the Daily Mississippian offers some historical perspective about the term “affirmative action,” and argues that it is presently too narrowly focused on race.  Other factors, especially socio-economic status, should weigh at least as much as race in making admissions decisions. 
  6. The editors of the Oklahoma Daily come down resoundingly on the side of a “diverse” student body, which they see as indispensable to the undergraduate education experience.
  7. The Duke University Chronicle provides an overview of the issues involved in the Fisher case, while the paper’s editorial board explain their support for affirmative action policies as a matter of “justice and diversity.” 
  8. “Justice” was also on the mind of a staff writer for the USC Gamecock, although she concludes that the present approach to affirmative action is outdated:  we can acknowledge the racial injustices of the past, but we cannot thereby continue to justify unequal treatment by race in our current situation. 
  9. At the University of Chicago, a staffer for the Maroon thinks that while some aspects of affirmative action policies probably could be tweaked at bit, the underlying principles are sound, and wholly consistent with the vision of Martin Luther King, Jr. 
  10. By contrast, an opinion writer for the University of Washington, St. Louis’s Student Life says that affirmative action is just plain wrong, unjustifiable, and fully supports the plaintiff in the Fisher case. 



Image: Wall Street Journal printing by Neon Tommy / CC BY 2.0

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