For higher education administrators, affirmative action remains a topic of concern. In Fisher v. The University of Texas at Austin, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that race can be a determining factor regarding student admission. Speaking on an educational panel at a conference in Austin, Dr. Gregory Vincent –University of Texas’ Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement – bragged about his institution’s legal victory. “I was actually encouraged by the Supreme Court endorsing this idea that diversity is a compelling interest,” said Vincent, adding that “the idea that all students benefit from having exposure to students from different backgrounds.”
But simply admitting and rejecting applicants on the basis of race is not enough, Vincent avers. “If all of the students of color come from poor, first-generation backgrounds, how does that break down stereotypes?” According to him, colleges ought to actively seek out students according to an array of non-academic demographics. “We need to make sure that these students come from all groups, all socioeconomic backgrounds,” declares Vincent in a plea for even greater admissions flexibility.
While Vincent acknowledges that universities “are prohibited from using quotas” he is committed to accepting “underrepresented minority students.” “I think that one of the strongest parts of our case is that we were able to demonstrate how race was truly just one factor among many,” boasts Vincent. “Candidly, the bigger issue is how do we increase the number of students who are in that holistic admissions pool, and getting more of those students there and making them more competitive once they’re in that pool, so that’s where the challenge is.”
Vincent also went on the offensive against fraternal organizations: “I think Greek life is a real challenge on our campuses… it is something that we will have to pay significant attention to.” “We are going to have to take that on.” But won’t that cut down on the diversity?