University joins amicus brief defending use of race in admissions

Washington University in St. Louis has joined with 14 other universities in filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court as it prepares to hear arguments in two cases challenging longstanding precedent that allows universities to consider race and ethnicity in admissions decisions.

The friend-of-the-court brief was filed Aug. 1 in the cases Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. University of North Carolina et al. WashU and the other institutions support Harvard and the University of North Carolina in their assertion that consideration of race in a holistic review of applicants is an essential step in creating a rich and diverse educational environment.

“The diversity that amici seek in their admissions processes is nuanced and multifaceted; it encompasses myriad perspectives, talents, experiences, goals, backgrounds and interests,” the universities argue. “Amici strive to enroll a diverse student body because amici have found that doing so significantly strengthens the educational experience.”

The universities call on the high court to again affirm that colleges may use race as one factor in considering admissions, in line with previous rulings, including Grutter v. Bollinger, which found such policies were constitutional. 

“It is impossible to fully appreciate every applicant’s experiences and perspectives while turning a blind eye to race and ethnicity,” they write.

The brief explains that a diverse student body benefits all students, by fostering inquiry, encouraging consideration of different perspectives and preparing students to be engaged citizens and leaders in a complex world. 

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in these cases in the fall.

Read the court filing here.

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