The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) will deliver post-trial arguments today in the federal trial that threatens to end the consideration of race in Harvard’s admissions process, jeopardizing diversity at the college. The final hearing comes after LDF submitted its proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law in early January, urging the Massachusetts federal court to reaffirm Harvard’s right to consider race as one of many factors in a holistic admissions process.
“Racial diversity is a central pillar of a rich, inclusive and comprehensive educational experience that benefits all students,” said Jennifer Holmes, Assistant Counsel at LDF. “Banning Harvard from considering race will undermine its ability to create a learning environment that prepares students for an increasingly global workforce despite significant barriers to opportunity for many students of color in our K-12 education system. Race-conscious admissions are vital to advancing racial equity and inclusion in higher education, and the Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed that universities have the right to consider race as one aspect of a multidimensional admissions process. We urge the Massachusetts federal court to do the same.”
SFFA, an organization led by well-known anti-civil rights activist Edward Blum, filed this lawsuit in 2014 as a part of his relentless crusade to ban the consideration of race in admissions. LDF and local counsel Sugarman Rogers represent 25 Harvard student and alumni organizations comprised of thousands of Asian American, Black, Latinx, Native American, and White students and alumni who condemn the lawsuit’s divisive attempt to block Harvard from fostering diversity.
The Coalition for a Diverse Harvard, Harvard-Radcliffe Asian American Women’s Association, Harvard-Radcliffe Black Students Association, Harvard Black Alumni Society, Harvard Islamic Society, Harvard Minority Association of Pre-medical Students, Harvard Phillips Brooks House Association, Harvard University Muslim Alumni, Harvard Vietnamese Association, Kuumba Singers of Harvard College, the Board of Directors of the Harvard Latino Alumni Alliance, James Mathew of 21 Colorful Crimson, Madison Trice of the Association of Black Harvard Women, Daniel Lobo of First Generation Harvard Alumni, Genevieve Hu and Jonathan Paek of the Harvard-Radcliffe Asian American Association, Alexander Zhang of Harvard-Radcliffe Chinese Students Association, Mukesh Prasad and Robert Rhew of the Harvard Asian American Alumni Alliance, Aaron Kruk of the Harvard Asian American Brotherhood, Amber Ashley James and Yvonne Osirim of the Harvard Black Alumni Society, Abraham Lee of the Harvard Korean Association, Sonya Kalara and Fatima Shahbaz of the Harvard South Asian Association, Damon Clark, John LaVelle, Tommy Miller and Emily Van Dyke of the Native American Alumni of Harvard University, and Alice Cheng, Liren Ma and Liana Chow of the Task Force on Asian and Pacific American Studies at Harvard College issued the following statement:
“Race-conscious admissions is, at its core, a recognition of the persistent role of race in delineating educational opportunities. Denying that disparities in opportunity, perception and equal consideration exist in our society is disingenuous.
“Race-conscious admissions is essential to expanding access to elite institutions like Harvard, and all the benefits associated with that access, by nurturing an educated class that looks a lot more like the world we actually live in—a reality that should be reflected in centers of power and in our places of education and employment.
“We still have a long way to go to achieve true equity in our education system and dismantling the limited consideration of race in admissions policies is a step backwards we cannot afford to take.”
LDF is a leading voice in the decades-long struggle for equitable college admissions policies, from its early efforts to desegregate colleges and universities throughout the Jim Crow South to its advocacy on behalf of Black students as amicus curiae in Fisher v. University of Texas. In Fisher, the United States Supreme Court ruled against Edward Blum and Abigail Fisher, reaffirming the Court’s longstanding position that, given the critical importance of diversity in higher education, universities may consider race as one of many factors in admissions decisions.
The Harvard organizations that joined the amicus brief are listed below:
Read the LDF briefs and declarations from Harvard student and alumni organizations here.
Read the post-trial arguments delivered by LDF Assistant Counsel, Jennifer Holmes, here.