Affirmative Action, Texas, and the Top 10% Rule by John Rasplicka

John Rasplicka drafted the following post; he is now a senior at Houston Christian. John also holds the honor of taking two of Carson’s classes during his tenure. Thus making him well informed. Besides being bright and argumentative, John does reflect his point of view with me a great deal. He is good about showing up at the Carson’s home for dinner and more politics. John’s POV is usually far more conservative than mine.

I did it. I got in to THE University of Texas at Austin. I reached the pinnacle of any Texas student’s education. I did it, sent out a notification via my Facebook page, and over 90 people liked my status.


But the truth is, I didn’t do any of these things, except get 90 likes on a fake status. I didn’t apply to UT-Austin, A&M, or any Texas schools. Despite my 92+ GPA and my 31 ACT, several extracurriculars, which feasibly could have earned acceptance in to either UT-Austin or A&M, I didn’t even bother applying. Why though? You probably think I’m crazy right now.

A short history lesson: Hopwood v. Texas (1996) stemmed from a white woman —  Cheryl J. Hopwood’s denial of admission to the University of Texas School of Law despite being better qualified than many minority students the University did admit. White men Douglas Carvell, Kenneth Elliott, and David Rogers, joined Hopwood as plaintiffs in the suit. All four had better test scores than 36 of 43 Latinos admitted and 16 of 18 black students admitted. The Court held that “the University of Texas School of Law may not use race as a factor in deciding which applicants to admit in order to achieve a diverse student body, to combat the perceived effects of a hostile environment at the law school, to alleviate the law school’s poor reputation in the minority community, or to eliminate any present effects of past discrimination by actors other than the law school.”

I didn’t apply to any Texas schools (specifically UT-Austin or A&M) because of House Bill 588, passed in reaction to Hopwood v. Texas, more commonly known as the “Top Ten% Rule” that guarantees any student in the top ten percent of their high school graduating class automatic admission to all state-funded universities in Texas. I’m not in the Top 10% of my graduating class. I haven’t checked the numbers, but I’m probably not even close. I’m not dumb, that’s for sure, but I didn’t earn a high enough GPA my freshman year to get me in contention for the Top 10%. But now that I’m a senior, even being in the Top 10% wouldn’t be enough. I would actually have to be in the Top 8% if I wanted to get automatic acceptance to UT-Austin. Demand for spots in the incoming freshman class has far exceeded supply, so UT-Austin (but no other Texas school) now has permission from the State of Texas to admit the top 1%, 2%, 3%, so on and so forth until 75% of the admitted students are in the incoming freshman class.

Why does this matter? Why is this crazy white kid writing on Eddie Carson’s blog about Texas State government and legislation and a university he didn’t apply to?

Because this system isn’t working. Texas set the Top 10% rule in to place to avoid affirmative action, but only more problems have come up. Simply put, people respond to incentives. It happens every day. I personally responded to the incentive set in place by the Top 10% rule by not applying to either of Texas’ flag state universities (or any satellite campuses for that matter). I looked out of state, where I knew my academic credentials would be appreciated and rewarded. Rather than paying about $30,000 a year to go to UT or A&M and be one student among 50,000, I will go to the University of Alabama and pay $15,000 a year as a member of the Honors College. UT and A&M are arguably stronger schools academically (by all means a result of the Top 10% rule), but in my opinion the Honors College will negate that.

The Top 10% rule’s inherent failure is that it was an effort to avoid affirmative action, but it is riddled with problems in and of itself. Texas is losing some of its most talented students, and definitely more of the well-rounded students. No, I didn’t make the grades to be in the top 10% of my graduating class of 117 students. But while I wasn’t studying I had out of classroom experiences–playing sports, enjoying fellowship with friends, working, doing community service. Other students who, for whatever reason, don’t have high enough grades to be in the Top 10% seek to go to college out of state as well. One friend I have is in the second quartile, but will attend Northeastern University this upcoming fall. On scholarship. Rather than let grades be my god, I sought out of classroom experiences that were only additive to my high school years.

And, I will continue to do so in college, just not in Texas.


One thought on “Affirmative Action, Texas, and the Top 10% Rule by John Rasplicka

  1. John-boy,
    Alabama’s gain is truly our (Texas) loss. I am thrilled to have worked with you for these past years and watched you progress from what you thought you might want to what is right for you. I admire your ability to analyze options, even though it has been EXHAUSTING to me! God will continue to give you opportunities to dialogue with people who are of like and unlike minds and I pray you will continue to seek His best in all that you do. Texas loses on this one…but as I have preached for years: find what is RIGHT for you, what FITS you, and do your personal best…which you have done and will do.

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