In an amicus brief filed in the Supreme Court on Aug. 1, the University of Pennsylvania joined with 14 other colleges and universities in support of Harvard and the University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill, in two cases brought against them by the group Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. The group argued that Harvard and UNC-Chapel Hill’s admissions policies were unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment and unlawful under federal law for considering race and ethnicity as one factor in their admissions process in the pursuit of enhancing the diversity of the academic community.
As noted in the brief, the 15 amici “have longstanding admissions policies similar to those the Supreme Court upheld in Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003). Accordingly, amici have substantial experience with holistic admissions policies that consider race and ethnicity as one factor among many.”
The brief argues that the “amici jointly speak with one voice to emphasize the profound importance of student body diversity— including racial and ethnic diversity—to their educational missions. The diversity that amici seek in their admissions processes is nuanced and multifaceted; it encompasses myriad perspectives, talents, experiences, goals, backgrounds, and interests.”
The brief further asserts that the “amici strive to enroll a diverse student body because amici have found that doing so significantly strengthens the educational experience amici can provide to their students. Diversity fosters a more robust spirit of free inquiry and encourages dialogue that sparks new insights. Diversity encourages students to question their own assumptions, to test received truths, and to appreciate the complexity of the modern world.”
In summary, “Diversity,” the brief continues, “prepares amici’s graduates to pursue innovation in every field, to be active and engaged citizens equipped to wrestle with the great questions of the day, and to expand humanity’s knowledge and accomplishment.”
The amici jointly conclude that “The Court should affirm that institutions of higher education may employ holistic admissions programs that are not blind to an applicant’s race or ethnicity.”
Joining Penn in the Amici Curiae brief are Brown University, California Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth University, Duke University, Emory University, Johns Hopkins University, Princeton University, The University of Chicago, Vanderbilt University, Washington University of St. Louis, and Yale University.