HARVARD GROUPS AND ALUMNI SUPPORT RACE-CONSCIOUS ADMISSIONS IN COURT FILING

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[Harvard\Race-Conscious Admissions]
LDF: “Last year’s ruling was a resounding victory for educational equity, and we are confident that the First Circuit Court of Appeals will likewise reaffirm that it is legal...to consider race as one important aspect of a student’s holistic college application.”
Photo: Harvard

Harvard University's race-conscious admissions policy is under legal threat.

Twenty-six Harvard student and alumni groups, comprised of thousands of Asian American, Black, Latinx, Native American, and white Harvard students and alumni, filed an amicus brief Wednesday, urging the First Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm a district court decision that upheld Harvard’s holistic, race-conscious admissions policy.

The students and alumni are represented by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and local counsel Sugarman Rogers.

The brief comes after Students for Fair Admissions appealed a decision by the district court that unequivocally allowed Harvard to consider race as one of many factors in its admissions process to create a vibrant, diverse learning environment as part of its educational mission. The district court’s ruling followed more than four decades of Supreme Court precedent.

“Last year’s ruling was a resounding victory for educational equity, and we are confident that the First Circuit Court of Appeals will likewise reaffirm that it is legal, necessary, and right to consider race as one important aspect of a student’s holistic college application,” said Jin Hee Lee, Senior Deputy Director of Litigation at LDF. “It is an honor to continue representing this multi-racial coalition of student and alumni organizations who know firsthand why it is vitally important for Harvard to continue fostering racial and ethnic diversity on its campus.”

LDF’s brief, which follows last week’s response from Harvard, condemns Students for Fair Admissions’ attempt to upend over forty years of Supreme Court law by seeking to roll back efforts to foster diversity in colleges and universities nationwide. Considering race, as one of many factors, in the admissions process is necessary to assemble a diverse student body, especially due to barriers to opportunity confronted by students of color at every level of the education system.

The brief also highlights the essential contributions that students of color and their organizations have made to Harvard, enriching the educational experience of all students. Completely eliminating race from the admissions process would deprive students of the best education Harvard has to offer.

“Now, more than ever, we are in need of citizen-leaders who represent and understand the myriad experiences in our richly diverse nation,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel at LDF. “As one of the leading educational institutions in the world, it is imperative for Harvard to draw upon this diversity to forge its renowned learning environment and prepare the next generation for the many important challenges ahead.”

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