Civil Rights Groups Affirm Evidence that Race Matters

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January 9, 2019

Civil Rights Groups Affirm Evidence that Race Matters

Evidence presented during trial confirm that Asian Americans are not harmed by consideration of race and ethnicity in the application process

San Francisco, CA – Today, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Lawyers for Civil Rights Boston, and Arnold Porter, LLP filed a Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law following the trial in Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. Harvard. During the three-week trial, SFFA failed to put forth testimony from a single applicant who claimed to have been discriminated against. In contrast, four Student Amici who we represent and four Student Organizational Amici provided unrebutted testimony that the consideration of race is necessary because we live in a society where race continues to matter and racial inequities persist.  

The student testimony and other evidence presented during trial established that the consideration of race is entirely lawful under Supreme Court precedent and necessary to appreciate prior achievements and potential contributions of applicants whose lives have been shaped by race, including many Asian Americans.

Important Points in Filing

Considering race allows applicants to authentically portray themselves

The consideration of race is necessary to honor the experience of many applicants like Sarah Cole, who testified that “there is no part of my experience, no part of my journey, no part of my life that has been untouched by my race.”

All of the students we represent, including the Asian Americans students, testified that they disclosed their race when applying to Harvard because their racial identity was inextricably tied to their experiences, viewpoints, interests, and ambitions for the future.

The consideration of race is necessary to combat pervasive racial isolation and hostility

Eliminating the consideration of race would result in a significant drop in Black and Latinx enrollment. This drop would erode a positive and stimulating campus climate, further marginalize students of color, and undermine the learning experience of all students. It would also undermine the intraracial diversity that is so crucial to understanding the Asian American experience and deter students of color from applying.

Socioeconomic diversity is not enough

Individuals who share similar socioeconomic status but different ethno-racial backgrounds may have differing experiences and perspectives that affect how they grow up and what they bring to the classroom. It is important for universities to cultivate both socioeconomic diversity and racial diversity. None of the race-neutral alternatives proposed by SFFA result in the same levels of diversity. Even in the most generous models, African American representation declines by 30 percent.

Race is only considered positively–including for Asian Americans

Our students’ application files demonstrate that admissions officers show an appreciation for the ethno-racial identity of Asian Americans. They recognized Thang Diep’s “immigrant Vietnamese identity” and Sally Chen’s upbringing in a “culturally Chinese home” as strengths that ultimately reflected a “strong sense of self” and explained their passion for social justice and serving others.

Race is not the predominant factor in Harvard’s admissions process

The application files of our students demonstrate that Black and Latinx students are not receiving an oversized boost based on race, and that any role that race is playing is more than justified based on the stellar records and tangible contributions that these students ultimately made on campus.

SFFA does not prove intentional discrimination

Students’ testimony revealed that Harvard considered Asian American applicants’ race as a positive factor in the admissions process.

SFFA’s statistical analysis is fatally flawed because it incorrectly assumes that SAT scores and other “flat numbers” should explain admissions decisions. Traditional academic criteria systematically undervalue the potential of minority students and have the least impact on admissions decisions in a highly competitive pool like Harvard, where perfect grades and SAT scores are abundant.

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