AMHERST, Mass (WGGB) — The Supreme Court side-steps a major ruling on affirmative action. Monday the justices said a federal appeals court should take a harder look at the case of Abigail Fisher before they make any blanket recommendations. Fisher claims she was denied admission to the University of Texas-Austin because she is white.
It was a “no decision” that local schools were closely watching, including at UMass, where the class of 2017 is in town for orientation.
“What we do is absolutely strive to have a diverse incoming class and students throughout the four years here,” spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said.
The Supreme Court said a lower appeals court didn’t apply the highest level of scrutiny in the Abigail Fisher versus University of Texas case and therefore ordered another review.
That means affirmative action wasn’t called into question, after last being affirmed 10 years ago.
Blaguszewski says UMass is compliant with national standards, as grades and SATs are the main deciding factors for the Minutemen. But who gets the nod if there are two identical applicants?
“There’s a whole range of variables and so you can’t really isolate one variable against the other. It’s really, accurately, a holistic review. You take all those things into account and then you come to a decision,” Blaguszewski said.
That includes extra-curriculars, work experience, background, and writing samples, in addition to grades. 21% of UMass undergrads last year were African, Latino, Asian, or Native American.
While UMass says while everybody has a fair chance to get in, they stress that diversity on campus is critical.
“We do that by working with counselors and students across the state,” Blaguszewski said. “Really reaching out to, to let people know far and wide from Amherst in schools with large minority populations that good students can come here.”
UMass says attracting the best and brightest students is their first priority. The Supreme Court could revisit the affirmative action issue again, if it is not resolved in lower courts.