Distributed February 18, 2003
News Service Contact: Mark Nickel
Race as a factor in admission
Brown and seven universities file amicus brief in U-Michigan cases
Brown University joined seven other academically selective universities in filing an amicus curiae brief today supporting the University of Michigan in cases pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. The brief supports the right of colleges and universities to consider race and ethnicity as part of an individualized admission process.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Brown University has joined Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Chicago, Duke and the University of Pennsylvania in an amicus curiae brief supporting the University of Michigan in two cases now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
At issue in these cases is whether a college or university may consider an applicant’s race as a factor in making admission decisions. In separate cases involving the law school and the undergraduate college, plaintiffs charge that the University of Michigan denied them admission because its policies confer an advantage on applicants who are members of a racial minority.
In their brief, Brown and the other institutions urge the Supreme Court justices to sustain “the judicially recognized and constitutionally grounded tradition of academic freedom, and the deeply ingrained practice of deference to educators’ judgments on educational matters.” That includes, the brief continues, the “well-supported assessment that individualized consideration of race and ethnicity in the admissions process is the best way to enable ... universities to perform their broad educational function.”
“By almost all accounts, our institutions of higher learning have benefited enormously from greater diversity in their student bodies, faculty and staff,” said Brown President Ruth J. Simmons. “The greater variety of backgrounds, life experiences, political positions, social perspectives and personal aspirations on their campuses has allowed the nation’s colleges and universities to better prepare students for lives in an international, multicultural world.”
In its support for the right of Michigan and all colleges and universities to consider race and ethnicity in their admission processes, the brief asserts:
Finally, the brief does not assert that any group, including African Americans, has a right to proportionate representation. It does, however, assert that carefully tailored action by universities to achieve substantial and meaningful inclusion violates no right on the part of others nor does it violate any constitutional or statutory commitment of our society.
“Colleges and universities now have a clear self-interest in recruiting student bodies that are broadly representative of our multicultural nation,” Simmons said. “Our nation will be best served when our institutions of higher learning are left free to do so.”