Why Should Our Race Affect Our Acceptance to College? (by Guest Blogger Janice Nakamura)

JanicePostingWe’ve all seen it.  College applications we apply for or the surveys we take, what is your race or ethnicity?  For most, we indicate what we biologically are.  Asian, Latino, Caucasian, African-American, Pacific Islander, or Native American.  The “other” category is what I’ve been impressed with the most.  Being a communication major, I had to do research on intercultural communication between parent and child.  We created a survey and asked what ethnicity our survey takers were, since it was relevant.  I remember that our results with what came up with the “other” category was very interesting.  Many people indicated “human,” “person,” or even “why does it matter?”   This brings me back to the issue I am presenting today about the Fisher Vs. University of Texas.  See link (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/09/us/supreme-court-to-hear-case-on-affirmative-action.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&).

The Rundown  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fisher_v._University_of_Texas)

Abigail Fisher’s first choice when applying for college was the University of Texas.  She had a decent SAT score, played soccer for her high school, played cello, and a myriad of volunteering and extra curricular activities.  She sounds like an ideal student to want to attend her top-choice university.  In 2008, University of Texas has also implemented a program where they accept students that are in the 10% percentile of their graduating class regardless of race.  About 80% of the freshman incoming class were admitted under the Top Ten Percent Plan.  The catch?  Fisher was denied to the University of Texas.

Fisher Vs. University of Texas (http://campusprogress.org/articles/three_takeaways_from_the_fisher_v._university_of_texas_arguments/)

Fisher had felt that her race was a part of the reason of her denial.  Fisher decided to take the issue of Affirmative Action to the Supreme Court with the case of why race should be a determining factor for a student’s college application.  University of Texas commented to Fisher’s actions saying that her race was not a factor towards her application.  The loophole that colleges have is that they are entitled to construct their student body based on the institutions core beliefs.  Having that construction of a diverse student body enables students to interact with each other more and to have minority students feel that they are not underrepresented or tokenized.

What Does the College Say?


College officials declare that this can assist with breaking down stereotypes and forging an identity of an accepting diverse institution.  Interesting enough, the article also discussed that much of race is not the factor of one decision, but rather a holistic profile.  It is also stated that there is no connection between race and a student’s range of views when it comes to the classroom.  Fisher also stated that there shouldn’t need to be a race box on the college applications.


My first thoughts about the Fisher Vs. University of Texas issue was that this very much applies in other races as well.  For example, being Asian, I have felt much stereotype about how Asians often are graded harder or have higher standards that must be met based on our ethnicity.  While I feel that we should not have a race box on applications and just evaluate students based on their performance, how are we able to construct a diverse student body?  Perhaps it should be that we shouldn’t have a quota to fill.  What are your thoughts about Affirmative Action?  How can students as well as colleges change the dynamics of a college application so that everyone has an equal opportunity?  Will there ever be a time when race is not the issue and does not determine one’s future towards higher education?

Image Link for posting: http://vorg.vinspired.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Survey-380×285.jpg


5 thoughts on “Why Should Our Race Affect Our Acceptance to College? (by Guest Blogger Janice Nakamura)

  1. Janice, I also find checking boxes for ethnicity a little perplexing. Before, I used to pick Asian only because it was the closest to Filipino I could get. However, now days, I choose other and fill in Filipino, although technically I’m mixed (Filipino, Japanese, and White-I’m majority Filipino).
    As for evaluations, it should probably be based on student performance, yet I don’t know how that would create a diverse student body without asking for ethnicity. How can we create diversity without asking? Is a college education really an equal opportunity? I feel it should be, no matter how much your family makes, as long as you want to get a college education, you should be able to, but I really don’t think college is really an equal opportunity. So why does it matter so much when we are filling out the FAFSA that they ask if your parents can claim you? What if they can, but they can’t afford to send you to school, or did not put money in a college education when you were growing up (as did my parents, and some other parents out there may be in the same boat) does that mean their child still can go, without running up ridiculous amounts of student loan debt?
    What about legacy admission or legacy preferences, doesn’t that just keep diversity out? I’m glad that some schools have done away whith legacy admission, but even that in itself seems discriminating.
    I would hope that one day race (or socioeconomic status for that matter) does not determine attainment of higher education, but I don’t think we are even close to getting there with the present state of things.

    • Janice and Lisa,
      I agree that it is wrong to make one choose which ethnicity that they categorize themselves as, within the limitations of the options that they actually give you. I am 3/4 white and 1/4 Japanese, I am mostly white but check Pacific Islander. They need to issue a definition page with all of these options. Janice checks Asian, Lisa used to check Asian but now chooses Other and fills in Filipino, how do these classifications actually even help anyone if those who are filling them out are not 100% which “box to check”? There are not enough choices available to even begin to cover all of the different ethnicities that one could be.
      In regards to Affirmative Action, I agree with Katie’s comment about it being a catch-22. If one year there are not many qualified minorities applying for a school and the majority of accepted students are white, that school will most likely be labeled racist. On the other hand, if a school denies a person because they are trying to fulfill minority minimums when that person is clearly qualified, that is also a form of racism and that school could be labeled racist as well. How can we make the opportunity to attend college more attainable to all, regardless of their race?

  2. I have checked those infamous boxes so many times and I have always thought who comes up with those sections. I also agree with Lisa where I hope that one day race, or ethnicity does not determine whether or not someone goes to college and/or gets a degree. I don’t even know why they put those check boxes on applications anyway?! That shouldn’t matter when someone is applying for anything!

  3. It’s a pretty classic catch-22, isn’t it? If colleges admit based solely on achievement, and the incoming class in a certain year is overwhelmingly low in diversity, people can accuse the institution of racism. If the university admits according to racial diversity “quotas,” some students may not be admitted, and then accuse the institution of racism like in the story above. Where’s the happy medium?

  4. Thanks for the post Janice. I agree with Lisa that for now the boxes appear necessary because opportunity is anything but equal, and is race based. If you expand on the statistics and thoughts presented in some of our recent readings, you have to agree that minorities in Portland, for example, do not have equal access to educational resources. Therefore, a lower number of those students will have the chops to get into some universities. If we base admissions solely on the meritocratic model, fewer minorities will have the opportunity to break the cycle. In that way, I guess the solution works from the top down. You give students who may not have the best grades the opportunity to improve themselves through higher education in the hope that their socioeconomic gains will impact future generations. Is this working? It seems to me that the real issue is why don’t these students have equal access to education earlier? Wouldn’t addressing that question naturally result in more qualified students from every race and social background?

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