WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 10, 2012) — The Supreme Court on Wednesday heard oral arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a case that will determine whether the University can continue to use race as one of many factors in its admissions policy.
According to the National Asian American Survey, 75 percent of Asian American adults support the use of affirmative action programs designed to help African Americans, women, and other minorities attain a better job and education. In spite of the model minority myth that all Asian American students are high achieving, many subgroups within the Asian American and Pacific Islander population continue to face barriers to higher education.
Forty percent of Hmong, 38 percent of Laotian, and 35 percent of Cambodian populations do not complete high school. In addition, over 50 percent of Pacific Islander students between the ages of 25-34 have not enrolled in any form of postsecondary education.
Earlier this year, Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus voted to adopt a position in favor of the University of Texas at Austin’s affirmative action policies. Over 60 Members of Congress, including CAPAC Chairwoman Judy Chu, have also signed on to an amicus brief in support of the University.
Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-32), Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), and Congressman Mike Honda (CA-15), CAPAC Chair Emeritus, released the following statements:
Chu: “As a former educator, I have seen the value that a diverse student body adds to the educational experience of all students. Equal opportunity policies, like those used by the University of Texas, create a fair process to ensure talented students from all backgrounds have access to a quality education.
“Barriers to higher education continue to exist for many minority students, including Asian Pacific Americans. Despite perceptions that Asian American students excel in education, many subgroups face challenges to achieving a college degree.
In order to ensure that students from all backgrounds have access to higher education, it is important that everyone gets a fair shot to overcome the obstacles they face. Policies that allow universities to look at qualified applicants in a holistic manner help to foster diverse learning environments that benefit all students regardless of socio-economic background or race.
Such environments are critical to student success in an increasingly global economy, and if the Supreme Court upholds the UT-Austin’s admissions policy, it will be a victory for all of our nation’s students.”
Honda: “The Supreme Court has already endorsed, as constitutional, an admissions policy very similar to that used by Texas a half-dozen times over the last half century, and, most recently, nine years ago in Grutter v. Bollinger. Yet, we are again debating the importance that quality and diversity play in our nation’s colleges and universities.
College diplomas still remain elusive for many minorities. White students are five times as likely as black students to enroll in a highly selective college, and two to three times as likely to gain admission. Low-income AAPIs and Hispanics face similar hurdles. This shows that while we have made progress, we still do not live in the kind of post-racial society in which equal opportunity policies are not needed.
“A more diverse campus environment leads to better educational experiences for all students. Less exposure to diversity is not only an issue of racial understanding and opening up the doors of opportunity, but also one that strikes at the heart of our nation’s economic competitiveness.
Our businesses rely on our higher education system to provide the diverse pipeline of talent we need to compete globally. As CAPAC Chair Emeritus, I believe that for our nation’s economic health, the Supreme Court must let universities determine their own admissions criteria.”
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.