The Case for Affirmative Action in Fisher v. UT Austin

by Zabdi Salazar

Affirmative action at the University of Texas at Austin continues to be a major issue of debate. On Oct. 26th, The Young Conservatives of Texas organized a provocative bake sale to protest affirmative action. According to a reporter from The Austin Chronicle, the conservative student group sought to spark dialogue in an unconventional way. The bake sale consisted of a tiered price model for cookies depending on the customer’s race and gender. After a while, a group of four-hundred student protesters surrounded the booth, sparking a fierce exchange about affirmative action.

The Young Conservatives of Texas argued that the policy demeaned minority students by considering race and gender when assessing a student’s accomplishments. They claim to be “color-blind” and seek to end the “disastrous” affirmative action policy. These discussions have emerged during a divisive and unconventional presidential election and in the context of the Supreme Court case of Abigail Noel Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, Et Al. However, the debate on the consideration of race in college admissions processes has been present for decades, since the case of Bakke in 1978.

Given the virulent discourse concerning minority and ethnic groups this year, disagreements over the role that affirmative action plays in the U.S. will persist.

Fisher is a leading case in the affirmative action debate. In 2008, Abigail Noel Fisher, a white woman, applied to the undergraduate admissions at the University of Texas at Austin. She did not qualify for automatic admittance via the Top Ten Percent (TTP) law passed in 1997 by the Texas Legislature, but she sought admittance through the holistic review process that weighs academic test scores, high school performance, and other factors. The university denied her application for admission.

Consequently, Fisher filed a suit against the UT at Austin alleging that the university’s non race-neutral admissions policy violated the Equal Protection Clause (EPC) of the 14th Amendment. Thus, the key controversy in the Supreme court case of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, Et Al. was whether the University of Texas at Austin violated the EPC by considering race in the holistic review admissions process. Fisher asserted that the university’s affirmative action policy disadvantages white students.

Similar cases over the admissions processes of universities are the Regents of the University of California v. Bakke in 1978, Gratz v. Bollinger, and Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003. The precedent that these cases provided influenced the Supreme Court’s  ruling in favor of the university of Texas at Austin on June 23, 2016. In the Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, the court declared “racial quotas” to be unconstitutional, but that in certain circumstances, affirmative action is acceptable when considering minority applicants. This affected the court’s decision in Fisher by clarifying that the university’s intent was not to attain a “critical mass”of minority students, i.e. “racial quotas.”

In Grutter the Supreme Court upheld the affirmative action policies of the University of Michigan Law School. This case ruling was influential in Fisher because it established the constitutionality of affirmative action in certain cases and by setting the precedence of “Grutter Deference.” This precedent established the court should defer to the university’s educational judgement regarding admissions policies. The case also held that there must be an end-point to the consideration of race, suggesting that by 2028, racial preferences may no longer be needed. In Gratz v. Bollinger, the Supreme Court held that University of Michigan’s undergraduate admissions point system was unconstitutional, because minorities were given additional points. Thus, the court argued that race was too big a factor and violated the EPC.

Gratz affirmed Michigan’s diversity promotion, but also that admissions processes must undergo strict scrutiny and be narrowly tailored  to meet the EPC.

In this debate on affirmative action in Fisher, I will analyze the major arguments that swayed the court’s decision, as well as consider the arguments provided by amicus curiae briefs. Despite the negative and controversial nature of affirmative action policies, this analysis breaks down the major areas of contention as well as what leading scholars suggest on how to best attain equality for all students while universities continue to achieve important goals such as providing their students with the educational benefits of diversity.

The main arguments that swayed the court’s decision in Fisher centered on whether UT met the standards of the EPC and the validity of the Fisher’s four main claims due to the lack of record or evidence (579 U. S. Fisher v. UT Austin (2016)). The EPC’s standards are that universities may consider race if the admissions process withstands strict scrutiny, weighing academic benefits of a diverse class, and that the school must prove that “race-neutral alternatives” are not enough (570 U. S., at p.2). First, Fisher fought the lack of clarity in admission standards and that the minority population already “achieved critical mass” meant that affirmative action policies had run their course. Second, she argued that there was a very small impact of considering race on minority students and alternative race-neutral means can still achieve university goals. UT’s affirmative action policies, in Fisher’s view, were unconstitutional. However, the court found insufficient evidence to support Fisher’s claims.

An amicus brief submitted for Richard Sander, an economist and law professor in UCLA, and Stuart Taylor Jr., a lawyer and journalist, argued that Fisher’s arguments needed to be grounded much more in empiricism and discuss the problem with transparency in admissions processes. The brief suggests that social science research may be a better method in evaluating the effect of affirmative action on minority students (Brief for Sander and Taylor, 2). The brief highlights how all aggregated admissions data should be open to the public while maintaining student’s privacy (Brief for Sander and Taylor, 34). Greater transparency will guard against rampant racial preferences and also provide students better information on the academic credentials of previously admitted students.

The court rejected Fisher’s four main claims because the university adequately proved with research and records that Fisher’s claims were not valid.

First, Fisher’s claim that race plays an opaque role in admissions can be considered reasonable for many reasons. Vague and elusive goals such as declaring how a diverse population will have educational benefits without specifying mechanisms and measurements is insufficient. Although Justice Powell established the “diversity rationale” in Bakke which proposed that the consideration of race can be constitutional as long as it fulfills a compelling state interest of achieving educational diversity, Grutter clarified that such diversity goals must be clearly articulated without violating the EPC. In Fisher, the court found that the university had already established concrete goals after reviewing a 39-page proposal based upon a year-long study. In this study published in 2004, the university articulated the need for the consideration of race in order to achieve the benefits of diversity. On “critical mass,” the university articulated how the goal is not to attain a certain number of minority students (579 U. S. p.14 (2016)). Moreover, Bakke established the precedent that it is unconstitutional to place minority quotas.

Instead, the university argued that a compelling state interest is to gain the educational benefits of a diverse student body.

UT explained that it began considering race because it was concerned about the student body’s diversity after implementing the top ten percent law. The university provided a similar argument on the petitioner’s third claim of the small impact of the consideration of race on minority students, since the university showed records that proved otherwise.

As quoted in the brief, “The record here reveals that the University articulated concrete and precise goals—e.g., ending stereotypes, promoting “cross-racial understanding,” preparing students for “an increasingly diverse workforce and society,” and cultivating leaders with “legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry”—that mirror the compelling interest this Court has approved in prior cases” (579 U. S. p.3 (2016)). Last, on race-neutral alternatives, UT presented significant anecdotal and statistical evidence how diversity goals are not achieved with alternative race-neutral programs such as a “color-blind” holistic review process. For example, the brief cited how in 1996, 266 African-American students were enrolled. In 2003, after Grutter, only 267 African American students made up the incoming class. The university found similar results when analyzing the number of enrolled Hispanic and Asian American students. Thus, even with the TTP, the university found that on campus diversity continued to stagnate, and the court found this evidence as valuable considering the need for the perspectives of underrepresented students to achieve diversity. (579 U. S. p.14 (2016)).

This case may also be considered somewhat unusual. The admissions process of UT at Austin greatly differs from that of the University of Michigan’s law school in Grutter. Specifically, approximately 75% of UT Austin’s students are admitted through the TTP mandated by the Texas Legislature. Furthermore, the petitioner did not challenge the university’s TTP. Analysis on the impact of such a plan mandated by the Texas Legislature on diversity may have been of interest. Considering the previous findings from 1996 to 2003 of UT Austin, and the lack of diversity attained despite TTP, analyzing how other public universities are affected may provide greater insight on the best policies that can truly benefit underrepresented students. Furthermore, UT Austin in 2004, following the case of Grutter, had already undergone a year-long study to ensure an effective admissions process.

UT had already established numerous strict standards such as periodically reviewing the effectiveness of their admissions policies through various research studies.

Furthermore, their admissions programs were found to be under great scrutiny as the admissions staff that scores each student’s application, undergo extensive training and oversight. Lastly, the court found that UT’s policies were narrowly tailored as UT assured that race did not play a larger role than as necessary by the EPC. Specifically, students admitted under the holistic review process must meet a certain cutoff score for their Academic Index (AI) and Personal Achievement Index (PAI) scores. Race is only considered at one stage of the process, as a subfactor of PAI, which assesses and scores a student based on their letters of recommendation, personal achievements, experiences, and “special circumstances.” Under the assessment of “special circumstances,” numerous of factors are considered such as the socioeconomic background of the applicant, and then race as just a single factor amongst many of these. Thus, as the opinion of court relayed, “there is no dispute that race is but a “factor of a factor of a factor” in the holistic-review calculus” (Cite as: 579 U. S. p.5 (2016)). Many different groups submitted amicus briefs to the Supreme Court in Fisher v. UT Austin. To understand how the court arrived at its decision, I will analyze three briefs in favor of Fisher and three briefs in support of UT. 

Affirmative Action in Asian-American Communities

Members of Asian Americans Advancing Justice et al. (AAAJ) in support of UT and the Asian American Legal Foundation (AALF) in support of Fisher, highlights how a single community was divided on the case. The AAAJ argued that UT’s current admissions policy has opened opportunities for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. On the other hand, the AALF alleged that the court wrongfully assumed that Asian Americans can be considered “white” and “privileged,” arguing that such mischaracterization uniquely harmed minority Asian American students the most in the admissions process. They allege that there are preferred minorities by the university, such as Hispanics, and that Asian Americans are excluded and discriminated against (Brief of AALF, p.14). Both briefs address the historical discrimination against Asian Americans, however one group believes that the status quo is beneficial while the other states it is harmful. The AAAJ articulates how race subgroups, such as Pacific Islanders, benefit from affirmative action as it ensures equal access to a higher education.

The brief argues that considering race as part of the holistic review allows for comprehensive evaluations that help certain minority groups because sole reliance on test scores is not race-neutral.

On the other hand, the AALF quoted a statement of the Fifth Circuit in 2014, “‘Given the test score gaps between minority and non-minority applicants, if holistic review was not designed to evaluate each individual’s contributions to UT Austin’s diversity, including those that stem from race, holistic admissions would approach an all-white enterprise.” Fisher v. Univ. of Tex. at Austin, 758 F. 3d 633, 647.’ AALF criticizes this claim because the court sets a binary between white and minority, while excluding the high achieving performance of Asian Americans. AALF addresses the implicit ignorance of the court in believing that whites have the highest SAT scores and academic performance even though facts show that Asian Americans score higher and have a greater GPA. Specifically, non-TTP admitted white students had an average of 1300 and Asian American students with an average of 1346 on the SAT (Brief of AALF, 9). This is the AALF’s main warrant for how Asian American applicants suffer disproportionately and the most from such policy, partially implying that test scores are better determinations of student success. This argument may also address the frustration of AALF for the lack of recognition by the courts of the academic achievements of a minority group, Asian Americans compared to white students.

AALF also addresses another minority group: Hispanics. The brief points out that there are more Hispanic students than Asian-American students. They reinforce the idea of how the university’s true goal is not to attain “critical mass” but that UT at Austin seeks to prioritize racial balancing, which is reflecting the demographics of certain populations on campus. They further argue that racial balancing is fueled by the purpose of academic and political elites within the university to secure the powerful Hispanic voter bloc. Furthermore, they address how in 2008 Asian Americans made up 19% of the student body while only making up 3.4% of the Texan population while Hispanics made up 20% of the student body and 38% of the Texan population. What AALF implies with citing these numbers is the threat of affirmative action prioritizing racial balancing, meaning that less Asian Americans might be admitted as they only make up 3.4% of the Texan Population.

The AALF holds these beliefs because of a statement in one of UT’s proposal in 2004 regarding a race conscious program: “[S]ignificant differences between the racial and ethnic makeup of the University’s undergraduate population and the state’s population prevent the University from fully achieving its mission ” (Brief of AALF, 11). However, according to the US Census Bureau in a 2015 census, 38.8% of the population of Texas is Hispanic while representing only 22% of the UT’s student body. For that same year, 23% of Asian Americans made up UT’s campus while making up only 4.7% of the Texan population. This means, that even to this day racial balancing is not an end goal for the university.

Despite the consideration of race as part of the holistic review process, it is not negatively affecting the number of admitted Asian American students.

AALF views negatively the assumed efforts of the university to mirror Texas demographics, i.e. racial balancing because they believe that UT’s main end-goal is based on ulterior political motives of institutional elites. The AALF brief’s summary states that “The evidence and common sense demonstrate that the UT admission program at issue is nothing other than forbidden racial balancing or, even worse, potentially an effort by academic and political elites to curry favor with a powerful voting bloc” (6). But the brief does not support this claim with any evidence specific to UT Austin, albeit they highlight Harvard’s potentially discriminatory policies, and fails to address UT’s true main purpose with creating racial balance that benefits diversity.

On the common sense argument, the university has a compelling interest in maintaining its own reputation and academic judgement free from political influences. The organization does not fully analyze how such racial balance is discriminatory and fails to consider how the consideration of race is just one method of many used to attain the true goal of diversity. Lastly, current statistics on the ethnic makeup of UT’s campus does not support the claim that the university is prioritizing racial balancing. Despite these differences amongst Asian American communities, African-American and Latino organizations have also submitted briefs, albeit solely in support of the respondent.

Affirmative Action in the Latinx Community

Given the AALF’s stance on the Hispanic community, I will analyze the amicus brief submitted by the National and Texas Latino organizations. Their arguments center on the importance of diversity on campus to foster leaders from diverse backgrounds in an increasingly multicultural workforce. The brief argues that the holistic, “blended” approach of UT’s admission process may help to end the underrepresentation of Latinos in government leadership positions, the private sector, and in STEM related fields. In terms of the effectiveness of race-neutral policies, the brief outlines how a blended approach was created in order to combat the shortcomings of solely relying in TTP.

Although Hispanic American and African-American enrollment increased under the TTP the policy does not ensure “critical mass” of underrepresented minorities.

Other policies, such as House Bill 5 continue to discriminate against minorities by limiting who was eligible for TTP, by enforcing a policy of having had an Algebra II course, even though it is not required by the state. This disadvantages students from underfunded High school’s that do not offer the math curriculum required by TPP and that choose to take other math courses (Brief of Latino Orgs, 9). Class rank cannot be compared to a holistic review approach. Since race is not the only factor considered in comprehensive evaluations of individuals, the university’s blended approach is narrowly tailored and satisfies the strict scrutiny standard. Furthermore, they argue that a diverse student body can combat negative stereotypes and hostility towards Latinos.

Although the AALF argued that racial balancing is guided with a political purpose, they failed to consider the potential benefits of such diversity. As articulated by the Latino organizations, there is still a need of greater representation of Latinos in government leadership positions that only affirmative action policies could achieve. Rather, the AALF could not provide a clear motive as to why UT seeks to appease powerful voting blocs instead of benefiting the campus’ diversity. Furthermore, the brief highlighted studies on how a college education boosts civic engagement amongst Latinos, a clear and measurable societal good.

According to a few statistics that the brief cited, there was a 19-point gap between voters with a high school diploma (34%) and a college degree(53%) in 2014 (27). This means that higher education is boosts one’s engagement in politics. In the U.S. only 15.1% of Latinos had a bachelor’s degree, while 40.8% of Anglos hold degrees (27). The brief further argues that such a gap explains why Latino registered voters lag Anglos by 20% in Texas (27). Such studies prove how as more Latinos are making up Texas’s population, there is a compelling interest to ensure that such students have access to a higher education in order to succeed in society.

The “Diversity Rationale” and “Grutter Deference”

The opinion of scholars is also divided. The California Association of Scholars (CAS), an organization that seeks to reform higher education, questions the “diversity rationale.” At the same time, legal scholars from Savannah law school, Sharika D. Pleasant and Vinay Harpalani, support the educational benefits of a diverse law school body. The CAS articulates that the “Grutter Deference” precedent (a precedent established in Grutter v. Bollinger) has allowed universities to use the diversity pretext without enough scrutiny and oversight, thereby perpetuating racial preferences in the admissions process.

Furthermore, they articulate that UT’s policies are motivated by outsiders (groups such as lawyers, political, and civic organizations) and not the “diversity rationale.” Thus, CAS argues that because there are many outsiders influencing the university’s admission standards, the court’s should not defer to the academic judgement of the university. Rather, CAS argues that the university must prove that the same admissions standards would be created without such pressure from outsiders. If this cannot be proven, then because of the great influence of outsiders, the university should not be given “Grutter Deference.”

The University of Texas’ Admissions

Although the CAS questions the “diversity rationale,” as the true intent of a university, the legal scholars from Savannah law assert that student body diversity, specifically achieving diversity within racial groups is a compelling interest for the court. The brief argues that the role of universities is to combat academic disparities rooted in racial inequality, and affirmative action is an important step to achieve this goal. Further, they stated that, “When such disparities have been eliminated, universities can attain a critical mass of minority students and the educational benefits of diversity without needing to use race-conscious admissions policies” (Brief of Legal Scholars, 23). This statement recognizes that closing the academic test score gap between minorities and non-minorities is a measurable end point for affirmative action policies and also a critical factor for attaining true opportunity and representation for students of all backgrounds.

Thus, both parties interpret differently the intentions and purposes of UT at Austin in regards to affirmative action. The legal scholars of Savannah law present evidence that the majority of Hispanics and African-American students admitted by TTP come from impoverished High Schools with little diversity. Thereby only admitting minority students with a specific experience and not achieving diversity among racial groups. This argument may partially explain the reason as to why the university found problems with campus diversity after implementing the TTP rule.

In relation to my own personal experiences, I find this specific argument to be true. I have many intelligent Latinx friends who went to underfunded High Schools and managed to get into UT Austin via the TTP rule. Moreover, considering that such groups of students are in most need of opportunities to achieve a higher education, I think that further analysis of which students are accepted via the holistic review process compared to those students admitted via the TTP may be of great interest.

Overall, in comparing the arguments between the Savannah Law’s legal scholars and CAS on “Grutter Deference,” I find that the arguments by CAS on the admissions process prioritizing the judgements of outsiders rather than academic judgements somewhat dubious. Although I understand that there are many outsider interests that could have an indirect influence on admissions process and the brief gives many examples, albeit not specific to UT, I defer to the university’s intent to prioritize academic judgements, as established by the “Grutter Deference.” Furthermore, UT Austin provides compelling evidence in how they meet the EPC with affirmative action admissions policies and how race-neutral programs are not enough to achieve diversity.

Officials should work to remedy discrimination against minorities and to achieve diversity via a holistic review process.

The Narrowly Tailored Clause

The amicus curiae brief submitted by the Pacific Legal Foundation et al. (PLF et al.), questions the validity of whether UT’s admissions process is narrowly tailored to achieve the “educational benefits of diversity” (Fisher, 133 S. Ct. 2421). Unlike many Latinx organizations, whom argue that because of the university’s “holistic approach” only considers race as one factor out of many (thereby meeting the narrowly tailored standard), the PLF et al. disagrees. They argue that UT nullified the strict demands of the EPC because of rampant racial preferences. The university must prove that their admissions process “work the least harm possible” (Vakke, 438 US. at 308 (op. of Powell, J.) and that it furthers a compelling state interest. They argue that the university of Texas has not seriously considered the costs of its use of race for admissions standards, meaning that the harms outweigh the benefits.

The PLF et al. is mainly concerned with the adverse impact to minority students, suggesting that they are stereotyped into broad racial groups and thereby undermining their individuality. They quoted past cases such as Shaw v. Hunt, a case on the consideration of race when drawing district lines: “‘Racial preferences stigmatize individuals by implying that the recipients are inferior and need special protection, thus “incit[ing] racial hostility” (Shaw, 509 U.S. at 643)’ (Brief of PLF et al., 17). However, as stated by the AAAJ, “color-blindness” can be considered “reality blindness” because it fails to even consider the problem of racism and discrimination faced by minorities in today’s society (Brief of AAAJ, 4). 

“Critical Mass”

The PLF at al. also criticizes the court and the university for their inability to clearly define “critical mass” as the brief argues that it has been interpreted as to ensure “classroom diversity”, “diversity within diversity,” and to end “racial isolation.” They stated that such unclear definitions make it difficult to determine whether the university is adhering to their own standards and securing the benefits of a diverse student campus with minimal adverse effects. This rejects the argument of the legal scholars of Savannah law that using race in admissions cannot be wholly excluded because of an attainment of “critical mass” as defined quantitatively or qualitatively.

Furthermore, they state that precluding the use of race in admissions standards through a one time court ruling just because a minority quota is achieved, is not a realistic or favorable approach. They argued that critical mass shouldn’t be an end goal, but rather to end educational disparities among racial groups and that the use of race will gradually diminish as such goals are attained. This is a much more realistic and beneficial approach, as the root cause of the problem is addressed and greater equality is achieved for minorities to fulfill their potential through opportunities in higher education.

Although there may be multiple interpretations of when a university achieves “critical mass,” the legal scholars’ explanation probably persuaded the courts.

The court deliberated after analyzing these six amicus curiae briefs, as well as a multitude of other amicus briefs. The court focused on the question of whether the university already achieved “critical mass” and the elusive definitions of end-goals (579 U. S. p.3 (2016)). The panel found that Fisher lacked empirical evidence to reject the claims of the university. However, the brief for Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor Jr. highlights two other major points of contention that the court and Fisher did not properly consider. First, much of the rhetoric of universities does not match their practiced procedures. The brief argued how the rhetoric on universities “holistic review process” may still consider race as too big of a factor for admissions and that it allows for lack of clarity on why a student was admitted.

The amicus brief referenced two major analyses of the admissions process of the University of Michigan Law school and the undergraduate admissions of Michigan University, finding that racial preferences was a much larger deciding factor for admissions at the Law school, despite their “holistic review approach” (Brief for Sander & Taylor, 15). Secondly, the brief discusses increasing evidence for a particular theory, such as the “mismatch effect,” which states how students admitted via race-based policies are adversely affected and that the university must disprove such findings and articulate true benefits (Brief for Sander & Taylor, 4).

However, the problem with this argument is that it implies that minority students are better off in attending less selective universities. This logic also implies that only white, affluent and advantaged students from strong high schools, deserve to attend selective universities. Moreover, this suggests that rather than the university providing greater resources and support to minority students, these students must somehow reach certain standards that the university seeks, despite many systemic challenges that they face. Still, through the analysis of these two major arguments, the brief concludes that the Fifth Circuit’s decision should be reversed and that clearer guidelines for universities are needed for the use of race in admissions decisions.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the respondent because of the unique admissions processes of the university, the articulation of clear goals sought and their year long study of the failure of race-neutral policies to reach a compelling state interest of student body diversity. As the opinion of the court relayed, “In short, none of petitioner’s suggested alternatives— nor other proposals considered or discussed in the course of this litigation—have been shown to be “available” and “workable” means through which the University could have met its educational goals, as it understood and de­fined them in 2008. Fisher I, supra, at ___ (slip op., at 11).”

The University has thus met its burden of showing that the admissions policy it used at the time it rejected petitioner’s application was narrowly tailored” (579 U. S. p.18 (2016)). Once more, the petitioner did not provide sufficient evidence to counter UT’s arguments. The university clearly articulated how “critical mass” achieved quantitatively is not an appropriate end goal and how the benefits of considering race as a factor in admissions outweigh the harms through its year-long research study. Still, further consideration of the impact of TPP on student body diversity compared to other alternatives may be of considerable interest.

This case proves to be salient considering rapidly changing demographics as particular minority groups are emerging as the majority.

For example, it has been projected by the Census Bureau that by 2044 Hispanics will become the new majority-minority group. This will draw major implications over the need of affirmative action policies and whether discrimination against minorities may continue to persist. Other minority groups such as Asian Americans may continue to argue that they’re adversely affected by such policies. Still, as articulated by numerous legal scholars of Savannah law, an effective and prudent way to deal with the use of race by admissions should be through a much more gradual approach instead of a one-time policy and ensuring that educational disparities are eliminated among student groups. Therefore, they approve of the university’s consideration of race through the holistic review process, as they find it an appropriate and gradual approach. At the same time, enacting the proposed areas of improvement as stated by the amicus curiae for Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor Jr. could be most beneficial to all students.

Increased transparency in admissions processes may even diminish concerns over the objectivity of universities in “Grutter Deference,” and greater assurance that the university’s rhetoric on the benefits of diversity are placed into action, may provide greater equality. Above all, I agree with the court’s decision, and I believe that a compelling goal for the state should be that race becomes of a lesser point of contention in the future as equal opportunity will finally be achieved for all students.

Zabdi Salazar is a sophomore Political Science and Business Administration major, as well as the Business Manager of The Contemporary. Zabdi is also the Treasurer of the Trinity University debate team, the Vice President of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, and a McNair scholar. She has recently finished an internship opportunity at the Bexar County Criminal District Attorney’s Office, and she is interested in exploring many other legislative and law-related internships. In her free time, Zabdi enjoys helping her parents grow their small businesses in Austin, going to church, reading, and eating chocolate ice cream. Email Zabdi:

The views expressed in this article are those of the writer. The Contemporary takes no position on matters of policy or opinion.

Read about the lack of Latino Faculty at the University of Texas-Austin. 

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