Dear Commons Community,
Yesterday, a U.S. district judge sided with Harvard at the conclusion of a court case in which a group of Asian-Americans asserted that the school’s admissions department discriminated against them.
Judge Allison Burroughs issued her decision, stating that though Harvard’s admission process is “not perfect,” she will not “dismantle a very fine admissions program that passes constitutional muster, solely because it could do better.” She also noted that “ensuring diversity at Harvard relies, in part, on race conscious admissions.”
The challengers, Students for Fair Admissions, argued that Harvard’s practice of affirmative action and their “personal” rating system sets the bar higher for Asian-American students than other groups.
“Students for Fair Admissions is disappointed that the court has upheld Harvard’s discriminatory admissions policies,” Edward Blum, the group’s president, said in a statement. “We believe that the documents, emails, data analysis and depositions SFFA presented at trial compellingly revealed Harvard’s systematic discrimination against Asian-American applicants.”
In the event that Judge Burroughs’s ruling is appealed, the case will be taken to the Supreme Court and will likely lead to a renewed national conversation around the future of race-conscious admissions. Some affirmative action advocates fear that if this case is elevated further, the practice of deliberately diversifying college campuses — which has historically been essential in combating the harmful legacy of racial injustice in America — could be eliminated.
If appealed and with the given conservative make-up of the US Supreme Court, this case can indeed have serious ramifications for affirmative action throughout the country.
NOTE: After my post above, The Chronicle of Higher Education published an in-depth article about this decision.