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Reed Supports University of Texas in Affirmative Action Case

Reed College has joined with Amherst in supporting the University of Texas at Austin’s admission practices in an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case that revisits affirmative action. Thirty-five other liberal arts colleges have signed on to Amherst’s amici curiae brief.  In all, more then 70 amici curiae briefs have been filed in support of UT’s practices, while 17 have been filed in support of the petitioner.

“Reed was founded on openness and equality and these are principles that we continue to embrace,” said Crystal Ann Williams, Reed College Dean for Institutional Diversity. “Intellectual and cultural pluralism are essential to Reed’s academic program and it is my hope that the Supreme Court of the United States will not erode any institution’s ability to thoughtfully and holistically diversify its community.”

The petitioner argues that the University of Texas at Austin violated the Equal Protection Clause under the Fourteenth Amendment by allowing race and ethnicity to factor into its admission process.

Amherst et al. argues that highly selective colleges that enroll only a small percentage of applicants weigh many factors, including race and ethnicity, when selecting matriculates from pools of the nation’s top students. Applicants are not mechanically chosen by class rank and SAT score, but by looking holistically at each qualified applicant.

The Amherst brief states: “Each college self-consciously seeks to assemble and house on-campus a highly diverse group of students from different states and countries, from urban and rural backgrounds, home-schooled, prep-schooled, and public schooled, with differing economic circumstances, with different kinds of experience, talent or athletic ability, students who will be the first in their families to go to college and legacy students following after parents or grandparents. ”

Imposing restrictions on the admissions process would diminish purposeful attempts to broaden academic discussions, said Keith Todd, Reed College Dean of Admission. “Any measure that limits a wide range of viewpoints and experiences is at odds with the Reed College educational mission.”