UT-Austin Unfairly Denied Admission to White Students, Lawsuit Claims

This is the third lawsuit that nonprofit group Students for Fair Admissions has filed against UT-Austin; it also filed a similar lawsuit against Harvard.

UT-Austin Unfairly Denied Admission to White Students, Lawsuit Claims

AUSTIN, Texas — A national organization has filed a lawsuit against the University of Texas at Austin on behalf of two white applicants who claim the school did not give them a fair opportunity to apply because of their race.

The lawsuit, filed Monday by the nonprofit Students for Fair Admissions, claims UT’s use of racial preferences in admissions violates the 14th Amendment, federal civil rights laws and Texas law, reports The Statesman. The lawsuit names over a dozen school officials, including UT System Chancellor James Milliken, interim UT-Austin President Jay Hartzell and members of the Board of Regents.

The group consists of more than 20,000 students, parents and others who believe that racial classifications and preferences in college admissions are “unfair, unnecessary, and unconstitutional,” according to its website.

The two white applicants, who currently attend other universities in Texas, applied for admission to UT-Austin’s 2018 and 2019 freshman classes but are “ready and able to apply to transfer to UT-Austin when it stops discriminating against applicants on the basis of race and ethnicity,” the lawsuit says.

The university currently uses what it calls a holistic admissions process to review students. Race is included in that consideration. In 2018, about 75% of UT-Austin students received automatic admission through the Top 10 Percent Rule, a state law that offers admissions to Texas students who graduate in the top 10% of their high school class. The school has factored race and ethnicity into its admissions decisions for the remaining applicants since 2003, when another U.S. Supreme Court ruling declared race-based affirmative action constitutional.

Students for Fair Admissions filed a similar case against UT back in 2018 but it was dropped earlier this month. According to The Texas Tribune, the group was also behind the high-profile Fisher v. UT Austin case, which made its way to the Supreme Court in 2016. It ended in a 4-3 ruling in favor of the university, with the court finding that UT-Austin’s race-conscious admissions policy did not violate federal law.

The group also sued administrators at Harvard University but a federal judge ruled in favor of the Boston school last October, upholding the inclusion of race as a constitutional consideration in applications.

The most recent lawsuit was filed about a week after the school announced a new set of initiatives designed to recruit, support and retain non-white students and faculty. Initiatives include improved outreach to underrepresented students across Texas and refocusing its Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, which outlines strategies to improve educational experiences for historically marginalized students.

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Amy is Campus Safety’s Senior Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy’s mother, brother, sister-in-law and a handful of cousins are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

In her free time, Amy enjoys exploring the outdoors with her husband, her son and her dog.

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