Emory, other universities urge court to allow consideration of race in admissions

Emory Report | July 31, 2018

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Elaine Justice

Emory is among 16 leading universities urging a U.S. District Court to affirm that institutions of higher education may consider race among many other factors in a holistic admissions program.

The amicus brief was filed July 30 in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Students for Fair Admissions Inc., a nonprofit advocacy group that opposes consideration of race in college admissions, is suing Harvard College over the university’s admission policies.

Emory and the other universities “speak with one voice to emphasize the profound importance of a diverse student body for their educational missions,” the brief states. “The diversity that [they] seek in their admissions policies is nuanced and multifaceted, and it encompasses a diversity of perspectives, experiences, goals, backgrounds, races, ethnicities and interests.” 

Learning as part of diverse community “encourages students to question their own assumptions, to test received truths, and to appreciate the complexity of the modern world,” the universities continue, noting that this understanding prepares their graduates “to pursue innovation in every field of discovery, to be active and engaged citizens equipped to wrestle with the great questions of the day, and to expand humanity’s learning and accomplishment.” 

The universities explain that, as part of an “individualized and holistic consideration of each applicant,” they must be able to “consider race and ethnicity as one factor among many in order to better understand each applicant and the contributions he or she might make to the university environment.”

While the plaintiffs suggest that this consideration should not include race, “it is artificial to consider an applicant’s experiences and perspectives while turning a blind eye to race,” the universities state. “For many applicants their race has influenced, and will continue to influence, their experiences and perspectives.”

In addition to Emory, other universities joining the brief include Brown University, Case Western Reserve University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, George Washington University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt University, Washington University in St. Louis and Yale University.