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Fisher v. University of Texas may diminish Carnegie Mellon’s diversity

Every American citizen should be generally aware of the happenings in the Supreme Court; the rulings it makes affect our entire nation, after all. But one of the court’s most recent cases could have a monumental impact on Carnegie Mellon and its student body.

The case, Fisher v. University of Texas, concerns the use of affirmative action in admissions at the University of Texas at Austin.
Abigail Fisher and Rachel Maichaelwicz, both white women, applied to UT Austin in 2008. When they were both denied admission, they filed suit, arguing that racial discrimination was at play. The case has made its way up the ladder of our district court system since 2009, and in both the lower court cases, the university’s affirmative action policy was upheld.

The Supreme Court, however, is split on this issue. With Justice Elena Kagan, who was involved as Solicitar General, sitting out this case, Justice Anthony Kennedy probably stands as the decisive vote.

If, through this case, the Supreme Court rules to revise or entirely scrap 2003’s Grutter v. Bollinger, which allowed colleges to use race in their admissions processes, Carnegie Mellon will have to rethink its admissions and scholarship processes.

According to a Carnegie Mellon research study conducted in 2009, minority enrollment in top-tier schools could decrease by 35 percent if affirmative action were to be banned.

Carnegie Mellon, known for engineering a diverse campus, would be drastically affected.

In a 2003 memo from Carnegie Mellon President Jared Cohon, he made very clear that the university is “committed to equal opportunity for all, and to affirmative action.” A significant part of Carnegie Mellon’s culture and values stem from the idea that diversity stimulates intellectual and personal growth, that surrounding students and faculty members with people unlike them not only “makes them better” — as stated in the memo — but also makes Carnegie Mellon a way station for almost every valid opinion and perspective.

We at The Tartan advise all Carnegie Mellon students to pay particular attention to the Fisher v. University of Texas case, so they can be well-informed about what could be an immense change to campus life and university policy.