By Simone Roberts, DDCE Intern
On October 10, Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement Dr. Gregory J. Vincent joined University of Texas President Bill Powers in Washington, D.C. for the Supreme Court hearing on Fisher v. University of Texas. But three student representatives from the DDCE’s Multicultural Engagement Center also had the opportunity to travel to D.C. in order to speak in front of the Supreme Court building on the Fisher case. For each of these students, the experience was one of a lifetime, and all were proud to be able to Support UT and be able to assert their personal stances on Fisher v. University of Texas Austin.
Jennfier Tran, a member of the Asian Desi Pacific Islander American Collective and Joshua Tang, a member of Students for Equity and Diversity, both received invitations to speak at the Supreme Court from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “It was surreal getting the invitation. I was incredibly flattered that they extended that opportunity to me” said Tran. “How many times do you get presented an opportunity like that in life, especially as an undergraduate at age 20? It was so gratifying to be able to share my opinions on the Fisher Case, as well as my life and experiences at the University of Texas.”
Tang recalled, “Going to D.C. to participate in the Fisher v. Texas rally was not a goal of mine when I started work on the case, but the attorney from AALDEF convinced me that it was necessary for a strong student perspective be heard by the national media.” When asked why he ultimately decided to go, he said, “It became important for me to go to D.C. in order to advocate on behalf of the student body at UT. It was also important for me to see how social justice organizing takes place on a much larger scale than what I am used to doing at UT.”
Michael Williams, a member of Afrikan American Affairs (and who is also active in DDCE’s McNair Scholars program and a mentor for Gateway Scholars), was invited to attend the hearing as a student representative for the Black Student Alliance and its efforts with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in the Fisher v. University of Texas case. When asked why he felt it was important for him to go, Williams said, “For me, as I do support UT and its value towards diversity, it was imperative to travel to DC and let everyone else know that diversity is education and a learning experience for all people.”
All three MEC students took advantage of experiencing all Washington, D.C. had to offer. “I had thought about going to DC for work in educational policy, and after that trip I could start to imagine my life there,” said Tran. Tang noted that “Going to D.C. for the Fisher v. Texas rally demonstrated that what I have done at UT is part of a much larger effort to promote social justice and that all of those efforts matter. It was great knowing that people like Ben Jealous and Al Sharpton, for example, were interested in talking to me about the work I had been doing.”
Williams, too, was motivated by the experience. “After seeing so many professional Black men and women interested in law and education there, D.C. brought the feeling of determination in wanting to be successful as a young and gifted black man. Every day I have to thank God for that experience,” he said.