ACLU supports colleges’ right to promote diversity
Edward Blum — an anti-affirmative action crusader and president of Students for Fair Admissions — is once again seeking the elimination of all race-conscious admissions practices.
His latest lawsuit, Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, comes after a 2016 Supreme Court decision that reaffirmed the value of diversity in higher education and preserved the ability of colleges and universities to further that value through appropriate admissions plans. After the loss in Fisher v. University of Texas, Blum lamented that he “needed Asian plaintiffs”* — who indubitably face discrimination and stereotypes in society — in order to pit minorities against each other for political gain.
In a new friend-of-the-court brief, the ACLU of Massachusetts supports the right of universities — including Harvard — to consider race as one of many factors in a whole-person admissions process. According to the brief, a race-conscious admissions process can further a university’s academic freedom to assemble a diverse student body.
Appropriate consideration of race — as one of many identity characteristics considered in the college admissions process — doesn’t conflict with the principles of equal protection. In fact, when done right, diversity strengthens the educational experience for all students and serves important values of equality, inclusion, and dignity even beyond campus.
Blum’s group, Students for Fair Admissions, proposes entirely removing consideration of race in admissions. Should any admission practices unfairly disadvantage any group, the solution is to amend the practice — not to discard a diversity program that benefits all students. The truth is, ending affirmative action will not end discrimination; it will entrench the racial inequality that stubbornly persists in our country. Racial identity continues to matter — in large part because of historic and lingering racial discrimination, both explicit and implicit, conscious and unconscious.
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