Amicus brief filed in support of Harvard and University of North Carolina
The “friend of the court” brief filed by Stanford, MIT, and others urges the court to continue allowing universities to use race and ethnicity as one part of their multi-factored review of student admission applications.
Stanford, alongside Massachusetts Institute of Technology, IBM, and Aeris Communications announced its support on Monday for Harvard and University of North Carolina, two universities at the center of a lawsuit looking to remove the consideration of race in college and university admissions.
The suit was first brought against Harvard in November 2014 by a group called Students for Fair Admissions, which claims the school’s use of race as one factor in its holistic admissions process violates civil rights laws. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case alongside a second lawsuit filed by the same group against UNC.
The amicus, or “friend of the court,” brief filed by Stanford, MIT, IBM, and Aeris today urges the court to continue allowing universities to use race and ethnicity as one part of their multi-factored review of student admission applications. It urges the court to reaffirm “the longstanding principle that the consideration of race as a non-determinative factor in a flexible, holistic, and individualized admissions process is a narrowly-tailored means of achieving” the benefits of diversity in higher education.
“A diverse student body enriches the academic experience for all Stanford students,” said Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne. “Considering race as one part of holistic review helps us foster a diverse campus community, one in which all students have the opportunity to learn from each other’s experiences and to think critically about their own views and preconceptions. It also means that Stanford graduates from all backgrounds can go on to bring their unique insights to leadership roles in the government, business, and nonprofit sectors.”
Both MIT and Stanford have highly competitive, individualized, and selective admissions to ensure candidates are well qualified for the academic challenges at each respective university. Stanford, which receives more than 100,000 applications each year for its undergraduate and graduate programs collectively, uses no quotas, targets, or mathematical formulas during the admissions process and does not engage in racial balancing. Instead, the university considers the full range of each candidate’s background and accomplishments.
“These factors, among numerous others and viewed in the context of the entire application, may sometimes shed light on the critical questions of a candidate’s ability to deal with adversity and make the most of the opportunities that the University offers,” the brief states.
The brief underscores the importance of diversity, not just within higher education but also within the intensely collaborative and increasingly global STEM industries.
“While the benefits of a diverse student body are widely observed, they are all the more salient and compelling in STEM, which has historically been marked by greater limitations in diversity than most fields of study,” the brief states.
Collaboration among diverse groups remains an essential part of STEM academic programs, and diversity within STEM fields is vital to the advancement of businesses that depend on the availability of a diverse pool of qualified graduates from elite institutions.
“A university’s judgment that the achievement of an appropriately diverse student body is paramount to its mission is entitled to significant respect,” the brief states. “Race-conscious, holistic selection processes are essential to achieve diversity in STEM programs at selective colleges and universities and to create a pipeline of diverse talent in STEM.”