In Support of Racial Diversity in Higher Education Admissions

Friday, December 9, 2016

Columbia University is prominent among the leading colleges and universities that filed amicus briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court last month in support of racial diversity in higher education admissions.  The Court is hearing arguments in the case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, today. Read the full brief hereYou can also listen to Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger speak about the case and affirmative action on NPR and read his essay in Time Magazine.

Among its arguments, Columbia’s brief speaks to “the profound importance of a diverse student body – including racial diversity” for the university’s educational mission.  The brief stresses the principle that the Supreme Court has previously recognized:  that “holistic review of individual student applications – with consideration of all of their individual traits” – is consistent with basic constitutional guarantees.   Recognizing that “race continues to influence our individual experiences,” the brief adds, too, that “it would be extraordinary to conclude at this time that race is the single characteristic that universities may not consider in any respect whatsoever in composing a student body that is diverse and excellent in many dimensions.” 

“Diversity encourages students to question their own assumptions, to test received truths, and to appreciate the complexity of the modern world.  This larger understanding prepares [our] graduates to be active and engaged citizens wrestling with the pressing challenges of the day, to pursue innovation in every field of discovery, and to expand humanity’s learning and accomplishment,” the brief states.