Date of this Version
Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Spring/Summer 2017, Volume 18. Number 1.
From the inception of the integration of predominantly White institutions in higher education marked by Sweatt v. Painter in 1950, The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) has been a battleground for educational equity. The university continues to find itself at ground zero in the battle for race and equity in higher education and embroiled in the debate over affirmative action, first in Hopwood v. Texas (1996) and then in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (2013; 2016). For these reasons, UT Austin serves as a bellwether institution for public, predominantly White institutions (PWIs) when it comes to integration. The legal challenges, coupled with evidence of a challenging campus climate for students of color, reflect the kind of hostility recently reported at Michigan, UCLA, and other public flagship institutions such as Texas A&M, where a group of visiting students from Dallas’s Uplift Hampton Preparatory School were racially harassed and taunted by a group of White men and women who told them to “go home” (Heinz). As UT Austin continues to confront challenges in recruiting Black students and maintaining a supportive campus climate for students of color ( Jaramillo & Cannizzo), it is important to consider the ways in which the institution has and has not changed in the past sixty years. In addition, it is worth noting that although Black undergraduates began attending UT Austin in 1956 (albeit in small numbers), Black students did not graduate from the prestigious Plan II Honors Program until twenty years later.