Fisher stands on shaky ground suing university

The topic of race in higher education is a burning issue lately. From the Mizzou protests to the petitioning action last week here at Augustana (that I participated in, for transparency’s sake), diversity on college campuses is on a lot of people’s minds. That includes the Supreme Court, who are hearing for the second time a suit brought by Abigail Fisher. Fisher is a white student from Texas who is taking the school to court over affirmative action. She is saying that it violates her constitutional rights to have her race considered in any way in the admissions process. Fisher v. University of Texas could result in the abolishment of affirmative action policies, which is not a good thing. Other publications have already discussed at length what exactly are the many political and social ramifications of this case. The point I keep coming back to is that the essence of what Fisher is claiming as the basis of discrimination is the reality that led to the creation of affirmative action policy in the first place. In his book “The Hidden Cost of Being African American”, author Thomas Shapiro outlines the various historic events and policies that have created a fundamental unbalance in racial wealth distribution. According to Forbes’ contributor Laura Shin, that racial wealth gap leaves the average African American family with just 6% of the wealth of an average white family. As any Augustana student could tell you, the cost of college can definitely be a determining factor to where we can even apply, let alone maintain attendance at an institution of higher learning. When our families are starting at such disproportionate places of being able to help us afford college, it impacts who we see on our campus. It wasn’t too long ago that only people who looked like Fisher could get into any institution of higher learning, could get a loan or get a good job. The United States has a long and shameful history of racial discrimination and segregation. Affirmative action policies are an imperfect method of rectifying those centuries and decades of injustice. Attempting to get rid of affirmative action, as Fisher is attempting to do, without trying to ensure that we don’t backslide into segregation is irresponsible at best. Even worse are comments like those that came from Justice Antonin Scalia on the debunked “mismatch hypothesis”. His remark in court was that students of color who enter universities like the University of Texas suffer due to being ill-prepared for the academic challenges at the school, and would do better at a less rigorous institution. Sigal Alon, a researcher and author on the topic of affirmative action policies, wrote in the Washington Post that the existing research does “unequivocally establish that affirmative action, whether class- or race-based, does not harm admits’ success in college or labor market prospects.” Scalia is off base and staring “accidentally racist” right in the face by implying most Black people aren’t smart enough for rigorous colleges with his comments. In addition, Fisher is standing on shaky ground as well. As reported by Sally Kohn in TIME, affirmative action tends to benefit white women like myself and Fisher more than anyone else. Suing the school for not getting in will hopefully, yet again, land Fisher with a whole lot of nothing to show except for further public scrutiny of her public entitlement temper tantrum. In the meantime, I’ll be adding my voice to many others on social media, #StayMadAbby. It really sucks to be on the other side of privilege, doesn’t it?