Associate Vice President for Enrollment Mertz: SHSU diversity means ‘no need’ for affirmative action

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The US Supreme Court is hearing another affirmative action case, though Sam Houston State University admissions won’t be affected by its outcome. The court is considering whether or not an appellate court’s decision to overturn Michigan’s 2006 college admissions-barring referendum is constitutional.

Sam Houston State University is among the many Texas public universities that use an automatic admission policy for high school students who rank in the top 10 percent of their class.

According to Inside Higher Ed, because of the amount of schools in Texas that have a large minority population, the automatic admission policy covers the need for affirmative action and results in no such affirmative action policy existing in most schools.

Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management Scot Mertz said that SHSU does not use any affirmative action policy because the school is already diverse.

Of the 17,316 students enrolled at SHSU, about 59 percent are white, while blacks and Hispanics each represent 17 percent. Asians comprise 1.2 percent of the student body and 6.5 percent is either unknown or classify themselves as another race.

SHSU political science professor Michael Smith said that the reason the Supreme Court took this case even after the precedent has been set could be because of a growing minority population.

“At this point in our history, Caucasiansà are still the majority of the population, but are not over 50 percent,” Smith said. “If you have more minorities applying to college and the colleges accepting them, there’s no longer a need to force [the colleges] to do it.”

The Schuette case started when the people of Michigan decided to bar universities from using race and ethnicity in the admissions process in 2006. The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit overturned the referendum and has placed the issue before the Supreme Court to decide the final ruling.

Another case from 2008, Fisher v. University of Texas, is still being deliberated by the Supreme Court justices. Plaintiff Abigail Fisher claims that UT discriminated against her because she’s white. At the time, UT used Texas’ top 10 percent rule from which 81 percent of Longhorns gained admittance in 2008, according to the official Supreme Court blog.

Precedent was already set by previous affirmative action cases in which the Supreme Court ruled that universities are allowed to use race or gender to determine whether or not to admit a prospective student. University of California v. Bakke was the first landmark case that allowed affirmative action for colleges in 1978.

Another landmark case was Gutter v. Bollinger in 2003 that dictated that the affirmative action taken by University of Michigan Law School was constitutional because it did not use a quota system for admissions.

The Fisher and Schuette cases are both being deliberated by the Supreme Court.

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