From Access to Outcomes: Considering the Texas Top Ten Percent Plan and Its Relationship to Student Persistence
Automatic admissions policies played a central role in both of the most recent sets of United States Supreme Court cases supporting the consideration of race as one factor of many in higher education admissions decisions. In Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), for example, the Court noted that percent plans-policies that guarantee students admission to state universities if their cumulative GPA falls within a certain percentile of the top of their graduating class-were not effective alternatives to race-conscious policies for achieving racial and ethnic student body diversity. And in Fisher v. University of Texas (2013), Justice Ginsburg, in her dissent, agreed with the above point and went on to restate what she had emphasized in Grutter : “I have said before and reiterate here that only an ostrich could regard the supposedly neutral alternative [Top Ten Percent Plan] as race unconscious” ( Fisher v. University of Texas, J. Ginsburg dissenting, 2013). Most recently, the Fifth Circuit’s Fisher decision on remand (2014) once again found that the percent plan was not sufﬁ cient to replace race, and that it must be complemented with race-conscious policies for the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) to achieve broad diversity. Despite these pronouncements of the inadequacy of percent plans in replacing race-conscious admissions practices, attention to such plans will continue, particularly in the aftermath of Fisher , which requires institutions to consider the feasibility of race-neutral alternatives for achieving a racially and ethnically diverse student body in order to justify the consideration of race as one among many factors in admissions.