Yale and 15 other universities filed an amicus brief on Monday defending Harvard’s race-conscious admissions policy, as it faces a lawsuit alleging that it discriminates against Asian-Americans.
In the brief, lawyers for the 16 universities — which include the seven other Ivy League schools, Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — argue that a decision forbidding the consideration of race in the admissions process “would compromise our efforts to attain diverse student bodies.”
Such diversity, the brief says, provides “irreplaceable value” to students’ educations.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit against Harvard is the anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions, which argues that Harvard has discriminated against Asian Americans by giving “racial preferences” to less qualified Caucasian, African-American, and Hispanic applicants in order to achieve diversity in its student body. The group’s goal is to abolish the consideration of race in the college admissions process.
“The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld universities’ right to consider race as one factor in a whole-person review of applicants in order to compose classes that are diverse along many dimensions,” Yale spokeswoman Karen Peart said. “Yale emphatically believes that enrolling students from all backgrounds and walks of life is core to its academic mission. We will continue to lend our voice to oppose efforts by anti-affirmative action advocates who seek to overturn decades of settled judicial precedent upholding universities’ ability to admit diverse classes.”
In the brief, the universities say they use race and ethnicity “as one factor among many” to better understand the contributions applicants might make to campus, arguing that it’s “artificial” to consider applicants’ experiences and perspectives while ignoring race.
A ban on the consideration of race in admissions, the brief says, would represent “an extraordinary infringement” on the universities’ academic freedom, because admissions decisions “are essentially educational judgments that are protected by the First Amendment and entitled to deference from the courts.”
Still, Students for Fair Admissions maintains that the role of race in the admissions process has allowed Harvard to discriminate against Asian-American applicants. In a brief filed in June, the group presented an analysis of more than 160,000 student records showing that while Asian-Americans scored higher on tests and recorded better grades than applicants of other racial or ethnic groups, admissions officers consistently rated them lower on personality traits, hurting their chances of admission.
The case is currently scheduled to go to trial in October.
Anastasiia Posnova | firstname.lastname@example.org