The Alexandria legal advocacy group that sued Harvard University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill this week for capping the number of Asian-Americans they admit says it hopes to file more lawsuits against other colleges for race-based admissions policies in the coming days.
Officials at the Project on Fair Representation say they are looking for students at other schools to come forward to provide evidence for future suits, with the ultimate goal of proving that all race-based admissions policies should be banned because they are inevitably abused by the schools that use them.
“The Supreme Court established extremely high hurdles last year, which a university must overcome before they can introduce race preferences,” said Edward Blum, the project’s director said in a phone interview Tuesday. “We argued that Harvard and UNC are ignoring those new doctrines, and we would welcome hearing from students that have been rejected from any competitive school that has not dropped their race-based affirmative action policies to implement race-neutral factors instead.”
Last year in a case challenging affirmative action at the University of Texas, the Supreme Court established higher thresholds for universities before they can engage in what are known as “race-based preference” admission policies. Instead, they are required to first try “race-neutral” polices, which seek to achieve a diverse student body through other means first.
Some examples of race-neutral admission policies include admitting students from high schools that did not send many of their students to college or those students who graduated in the top 10 percent of their class irrespective of their standardized test scores or extracurricular activities.
Top officials at Harvard and UNC argued this week their current plans meet the high court’s new threshold.
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Harvard General Counsel Robert Iuliano said the university’s admission policies “remain fully compliant with all legal requirements,” while UNC spokesman Rick White said the school “stands by its current admissions policy and process.”
Mr. Blum disagreed, noting that, ironically, racial balancing practices do not necessarily maximize racial minority diversity — a fact, he said, that the North Carolina school has actually admitted to in a previous Chapel Hill study.
“The unique thing about UNC is that they did a study in which they concluded that if they dropped race-based affirmative action and instead implemented a top-ten-percent plan like Texas, the number of minorities on their campus would go up, not down,” he said. “So, for them to continue using race-based preferences is not fair. It’s actually limiting the number of minorities that can attend that school, and we believe the court will find that it’s unconstitutional.”
Mr. Blum said that his organization is currently hoping to interview more applicants who were rejected from the University of Wisconsin, the University of Minnesota and the University of Tennessee.
The Harvard lawsuit focuses in particular on admissions policies that the plaintiffs say hurt the chances of qualified Asian-American applicants.
Asian applicants were judged by tougher standards, and officials used other methods to keep down the percentage of Asian students accepted, the lawsuit contends. The pattern proves that schools cannot be trusted to fairly implement race-based policies in the first place.
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“Harvard and other academic institutions cannot and should not be trusted with the awesome and historically dangerous tool of racial classification,” the lawsuit read in part, adding that schools will use any legal “leeway” to “engage in racial stereotyping, discrimination against disfavored minorities and quota-setting to advance their social engineering agenda.”
• Jeffrey Scott Shapiro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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