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Ruling Could Be Near on Fisher v. Texas

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Josh Civin, Counsel to the Director of Litigation, recently presented oral argument to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Fisher vs. University of Texas on remand. In this article, he talks about barriers to educational opportunities for students of color and the importance of college diversity.

"Joshua Civin, counsel to the director of litigation for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, argued in court that there are still barriers to education for racial minorities — and that those barriers constitute an inherent disadvantage. Civin argued on behalf of the undergraduate Black Student Alliance at UT and Black Ex-Students of Texas, an alumni group.

During oral arguments, the panel questioned the university about the concept of a “critical mass” of students from minority groups, an idea first outlined during the 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger case, which upheld the use of a race-conscious admissions policy.

...Civin says that African-American students still feel isolated on campus and in classrooms — considering themselves “tokens.” Fostering a more diverse student body can help alleviate that isolation and break down stereotypes, which can be harmful to all members of the campus community.

There should not be some “absolute cap” based on raw numbers, Civin says. “In a classroom with more than one or multiple or a critical mass of students, there are many more opportunities for all students to experience the different backgrounds as individuals and see … students of a whole variety of backgrounds.”

...Civin says that the use of race is necessary because of the increasingly globalized and diverse world.

“We continue to think that a modest but significant consideration of race can be necessary for universities to ensure that the pathways to leadership that universities — including flagships like UT — provide remain open to students of all backgrounds,” he says. “We think that there are a lot of barriers to full and equal opportunities in higher education. Making sure that those pathways are open is so critical.”"

Read thd full article here.