Dear Abigail Fisher,
I am sure that you have already received a ton of hate from your decision to challenge affirmative action at the University of Texas at Austin. And while hashtags like #StaymadAbby and #Beckywiththebadgrades are a way for people to express their frustrations, they are not the most appropriate way of addressing the issue at hand. So this letter is my attempt to reason with you, and explain how affirmative action benefits students in your position.
Let’s start with grades. Taking race out of the equation, merit is the biggest component when it comes to admission. UT Austin is one of the best public universities in the nation and a top contender among international universities as well. Surely, they acquired this status by admitting students that are cream of the crop and not because they are leading an anti-white crusade.
Some might say that you were fortunate to apply in the year 2008. While it had outstanding applicants that year, back then, UT Austin’s requirement for automatic admission was top 10 percent of the class, which has now been reduced to only top 7 percent. Your GPA was 3.59 and SAT scores 1180 (out of 1600), and while these numbers are decent, they are nowhere close to being considered competitive.
At this point, you would probably argue that there were students with grades lower than yours who still got admitted. Yes, that happens, sometimes, and it sucks. However, to remind you, only five of those students were black or Latino, while 42 of them were white. If race, as you believe, was the key factor in your rejection, then what exactly do you make of those 42 white students with scores lower than yours?
If that doesn’t show you that your race was not the only factor here, there were one 168 black/Latino students who were denied admission with grades as good as, or much better, than yours. Despite these numbers, if you still think that your admission was contingent upon your race, then I’m afraid to tell you that you’re in denial and swimming in a pool of entitlement.
Affirmative action was not created to deny qualified white students admission because of their race but rather to ensure that qualified minorities were not left out because of their race.
Sadly, even when this rule was meant to be advantageous for minority students, the people that truly reap its benefits are middle to upper class white applicants. Let me explain it to you like how Wall Street Journal did perfectly through a hypothetical scenario. University X has a 1000 spots for its incoming freshmen, and because of race-based affirmative action, 20 percent (200 spots) are reserved for minority students. This leaves white students with 800 spots. Now, let’s take away the race-based affirmative action.
When University X is left without this rule, it has to find new parameters to maintain diversity, so it will most likely resort to income level. Since low-income level areas would have some whites along with minorities, they would admit more of those applicants. In order to reach their 20 percent minority rule, they would require 333 affirmative action students (200 minorities along with 133 whites which were included through this criterion), leaving only 667 spots for non-affirmative action students.
You see? Race-based affirmative action allows the system to still work in favor of the upper class white applicants, so you should actually be thankful for it.
Look, I get it. UT Austin has been a legacy in your family, and it is totally understandable that you would want to continue that legacy. What I do not understand is why you would try to end a rule that enables minority students to have the same chance to make UT Austin their family legacy. If attending this school meant so much to you, you should have accepted their offer to attend a satellite school and transfer to Austin sophomore year.
Or, you could have done great at LSU and applied to UT Austin for grad school. Instead, you decided to blame the school and tarnish that name in your family. You made it seem as if the entire system was built to hold back you, a white girl who apparently did everything right but was robbed off by a lesser-deserving minority.
I hope that you use this time to reflect why the Supreme Court decided to rule the way it did. Please take this opportunity to learn that whatever you do in life, you will inherently be at an advantage because you are a white. So is race important? Yes, but not in this instance. This was never about your race, Abigail, but your merit, and you just weren’t good enough.