Education

Students File Legal Brief to Protect Racial Diversity at Harvard, Other Schools

A group of Harvard students and alumni of color have submitted an amicus brief with the First Circuit Court of Appeals laying out how they have benefited from the school’s diversity admissions plan and requesting the appellate court affirm a federal judge’s upholding of the policies.

Judge Allison Burrough’s ruling last year also held that Harvard’s policies were consistent with more than 40 years of U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

In the case, conservative activist Ed Blum sought to dismantle Harvard’s admissions plan that considers race and ethnicity as part of its whole-person review for all students. While Blum’s case was not successful at the district court level, Students For Fair Admissions appealed the ruling and the Trump administration filed an amicus supporting the group’s call for reversal.

“This case presents one of the gravest challenges to race-conscious admissions efforts that we have faced in recent times,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “As colleges build out their educational communities, they must have the ability to consider all aspects of an applicant’s lived experiences, including race, to identify exceptional students from diverse backgrounds. The First Circuit must, like the district court, flatly reject Blum’s attempts to turn back the clock on racial diversity in higher education.”

In their brief, the pro-affirmative action student-amici cite testimony submitted at their 2018 trial of how Harvard’s interest in opening up the doors of opportunity to a diverse student body enriched their experiences and that of their fellow students.

“Every student deserves a fair chance at a college education,” said John Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice. “Considering a person’s race and ethnicity as part of the admissions process provides a diverse learning environment that benefits our students, our workforce, and the country as a whole. We are proud to represent these students who have been so steadfast in this fight because they have illustrated how race-conscious admissions benefit us all and why we, as Asian Americans, must care about affirmative action.”

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