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Court Upholds UT Affirmative Action Plan

Updated: Wednesday, July 16 2014, 05:20 PM CDT
A federal appeals court upheld the use of race by University of Texas at Austin in undergraduate admissions. 

Tuesday's decision was handed down in a 2-1 vote by a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The University of Texas President Bill Powers called the decision a significant win for the University and other universities across the country.

"One of our core arguments all along has been the educational value of diversity to all of our students regardless of their background, and we continue to believe deeply in that fact," Powers said.

The case has been a heated issue across the country for six years, and has bounced around from court to court.

It started after Abigail Fisher, a rejected undergrad applicant, sued UT in 2008. She claimed the university denied her admission in favor of lesser-qualified minorities, which she said violated her 14th Amendment rights.

Those opposing Fisher argue affirmative action is needed to gain a diverse campus.

UT Student Body President Kori Rady agreed with the court's decision.

"When you are coming from different towns and different areas and you haven't necessarily been around people who are different than you it can provide a nice life learning experience," Rady said. "That is what college is really about."

Under Texas Law, 75-percent of students are admitted under the "Top Ten Percent Plan," and for the other 25 percent UT factors in race, grades, test scores, and student activities.

Gregory Vincent is the UT Vice President of Diversity and Community Engagement for the campus. He said he felt the ruling sent a strong message to the students and other campuses.

"This affirms what has been going on in American education for at least five decades," Vincent said. "We want an exclusive admissions process and we want to make sure that all students have the ability to go to their flagship university."

The case is likely far from over. Lawyers challenging the university's affirmative action plan have already pledged to appeal.

Fisher responded in a statement saying in part: "I remain committed to continuing this lawsuit even if it means we appeal to the Supreme Court once again."

By Cassie GalloCourt Upholds UT Affirmative Action Plan

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