Complaint Filed Against University of Texas With U.S. Department of Education Over Admissions Policy

    WASHINGTON, July 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the Project on Fair
 Representation (POFR) announces the filing of a complaint against the
 University of Texas at Austin with the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S.
 Department of Education. POFR asserts UT-Austin violated the law when race
 and ethnicity were reintroduced in the undergraduate admissions process.
 (see attached letter)
     Edward Blum, director of POFR, said "UT's recent reintroduction of
 racial preferences in undergraduate admissions is illegal, to say nothing
 of being unfair and polarizing. The U.S. Department of Education needs to
 end this practice before the next round of freshman applications is
 submitted."
     In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a pair of cases from the Univ.
 of Michigan that under certain circumstances, and for a period of only 25
 years, colleges and universities could use racial and ethnic preferences in
 their admissions process in order to create a more "diverse" student body.
 However, the Court wrote that before resorting to preferences, a school
 must make a good faith effort to use race-neutral means to accomplish this
 goal.
     Following the Hopwood v. State of Texas court decision in 1996, the
 Texas Legislature passed the Top 10% Plan in 1998. The Top 10% Plan is
 facially race-neutral because it grants automatic college admissions to any
 student graduating in the top-10 percent of his or her class. Under the Top
 10% Plan, racial diversity at UT is higher today than it was when UT
 employed a race-based quota system. In spite of this, the University of
 Texas reintroduced racial and ethnic preferences into the admissions
 process of the UT system, unlike Texas A&M which correctly rejected
 reintroducing preferences in their admissions considerations.
     Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court repeated its warning to schools like
 UT-Austin in its decision in Parents Involved In Community Schools v.
 Seattle School District No. 1. In this case, the Court invalidated overt
 racial discrimination, holding that the schools there "failed to show that
 they considered methods other than explicit racial classifications to
 achieve their stated goals."
     The mission of the Project on Fair Representation (POFR) is to
 facilitate pro bono legal representation to political subdivisions and
 individuals that wish to challenge government distinctions and preferences
 made on the basis of race and ethnicity.
     Office for Civil Rights
     U.S. Department of Education
     400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.
     Washington, D.C. 20202-1100
 
     VIA FACSIMILE (202) 245-6840
 
 
     Dear Sir or Madam:
     Please accept this letter as a formal complaint against the University
 of Texas at Austin (the University).
     Beginning in 2005, the University of Texas at Austin reintroduced race
 and ethnicity as factors for admissions at the undergraduate and graduate
 school levels. We believe that the law prohibits them from considering
 these factors at the undergraduate level for the following reasons:
     1. Beginning in 1996, the University was prohibited from using a student's
        race or ethnicity in the undergraduate and graduate admissions process
        as a result of Hopwood v. State of Texas, 78 F. 3d 932 (5th Cir.),
        cert. denied, 116 S. Ct. 2581 (1996).
 
     2. In response this decision, the Texas legislature passed HB588 (1998),
        widely known as the top-10 percent plan. This plan grants automatic
        admission to the University (or any undergraduate program at any Texas
        public institution) to any student graduating in the top-10 percent of
        his or her graduating class.
 
     3. Testimony during the debate on this legislation, and subsequent
        speeches, writings, and testimony from University officials recognize
        that HB588 is a race-neutral system designed to achieve greater racial
        and ethnic diversity at the University without racial or ethnic
        considerations.
 
     4. UT's own records show that from 1996 to 2005, the top-10 percent plan
        was just as effective as or even more effective in enrolling minority
        students to the University than were race-based preferences. See
        http://www.utexas.edu/student/admissions/research/HB588-Report9.pdf.
 
     5. In 2003, in Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003), and Gratz v.
        Bollinger 539 U.S. 244 (2003), the U.S. Supreme Court, while allowing
        the narrow consideration of race and ethnicity in university
        admissions, wrote that "Narrow tailoring does, however, require
        serious, good faith consideration of workable race-neutral alternatives
        that will achieve the diversity the university seeks."  The Court
        repeated its warning to schools like UT in its decision last week in
        Parents Involved In Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1
        551 U.S.___(June 28, 2007).  There, the Court invalidated overt racial
        discrimination, holding that the schools there "failed to show that
        they considered methods other than explicit racial classifications to
        achieve their stated goals."  (Slip op. at 27) (Emphasis added.)
 
     6. The University has not only considered race-neutral means to achieve
        diversity, but they have been effective as well. The law prohibits them
        from re-introducing race and ethnicity as a factor in undergraduate
        admissions.
 
     We look forward to your response to this complaint.
 
     Sincerely yours,
 
 
     Edward Blum, Director
 
     David Bissinger, Counsel
 
 

SOURCE Project on Fair Representation

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