Triangle universities side with University of Texas’ use of race in admissions

From staff reportsAugust 16, 2012 

Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill have both weighed in with the U.S. Supreme Court about a Texas case that challenges the use of race in college admissions.

Duke was among 14 universities, including Harvard, Stanford and Yale, that signed onto a single amicus brief this week. UNC-Chapel Hill filed its own friend-of-the-court brief last week.

The coalition that included Duke said in its brief that the universities “speak with one voice to the profound importance of a diverse student body – including racial diversity – for their educational missions.” They say they “recognized long ago that admissions by purely numerical factors such as grade-point averages and standardized test scores would not effectively accomplish their broader educational missions.”

The brief notes that none of the 14 universities reserves seats for applicants of any race or ethnic background. Rather, their admissions policies consider various factors such as backgrounds, talents, experiences, race and first generation in college.

The UNC-CH brief argues that public universities have a compelling state interest in preparing students for a diverse society and assuring a pool of strong state leaders by admitting undergraduates from every background. A requirement to adopt a “race-neutral” admissions policy would weaken the quality of future classes and exclude strong candidates, the authors of the brief write.

The case was brought by Abigail Fisher, a white applicant who sued the University of Texas at Austin in 2008 after being denied admission. She claims the consideration of race by the university is unconstitutional and in violation of federal civil rights statutes. The court is scheduled to hear arguments in the case Oct. 10.

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