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Affirmative action supporters rally at supreme court

By Maya Rhodan
On October 22, 2012

WASHINGTON - While Supreme Court justices listened to oral arguments in an affirmative action case involving the University of Texas, people representing organizations from across the country rallied outside, near the steps of the nation's highest court.

 For three hours last week, representatives from more than 30 civic organizations, including the National Organization for Women, the NAACP, People for the American Way, and National Urban League, spoke out in support of the University of Texas at Austin whose admissions policies are being challenged before the court.
 Many of the groups who were represented submitted one of the over 90 friend-of-the-court briefs in support of affirmative action and the University of Texas.
 Alexandria Lappis, a second year law student at Georgetown University, was at the rally bright and early, and was one of many holding signs that read "Out of Many, One America."
 "We all bring different things to the table," said Lappis. "In school, it's important to have as many viewpoints as possible because we grow as individuals by being confronted with views and opinions that differ from our own."
 The University of Texas now admits 75 percent of its entering class through its top 10 percent program. All Texas residents who finish in the top 10 percent of their class are automatically granted admission to the University of Texas at Austin, the flagship campus. The remainder of admitted based on a variety of factors, including leadership, awards, extracurricular activities, socioeconomic status, test scores, work experience and race.
 Avis DeWeever, the executive director of the National Council of Negro Women, told the crowd: "As a former professor, I know the admissions process is a complex one. It takes into consideration many factors to create a class that is diverse in nature on several levels. That diversity benefits each and every student."
 Cortney Sanders, a 20-year-old student at University of Texas at Austin, said, "When you go out in the real world, you're going to meet mass amounts of communities that come from different backgrounds, different cultures," said Sanders. "You need to be prepared for that after college."
 At the University of Texas at Austin, 48 percent of the students are White, 21 percent are Hispanic and 18 percent is Asian. Only 5 percent of the student population was identified as Black, according to 2011 figures.
 "We are fighting for the inclusion of all and that's what this case is all about," said national rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton, who spoke at the end of the rally. "The minute we start acting like people become victims when we open the door of inclusion for everyone, that's when we bring America backwards rather than going forward."


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