In 1978, the Supreme Court ruled in Bakke that strict racial quotas in college admissions violated the 14th Amendment. In 2003, the Court ruled in Grutter that race was permitted as a factor in admissions decisions, as long as it was “narrowly tailored.” Today, race-conscious admissions faces a new challenge, in a decidedly unfavorable environment. A group called Students for Fair Admissions has brought suit against Harvard, claiming its admissions policy unfairly discriminates against Asian-American applicants. At the same time, the Department of Justice is investigating the admissions processes at Harvard and other highly selective institutions to discern whether Asian-Americans are treated differently based on race during the admissions process. Together, the case and the Department of Justice investigation have the potential to threaten race-conscious policy in higher education admissions.
In light of these issues, Penn State’s Center for Education and Civil Rights and Center for the Study of Higher Education hosted a panel discussion on the affirmative action cases at Harvard and other selective universities, in an effort to foster understanding of what is at stake, provide tools and frameworks to explore these cases, and discuss how we got here and what research suggests.
The discussion was moderated by Dara Purvis, Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion in Penn State Law and featured:
This event was co-sponsored by the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA), the Black Law Students Association (BLSA), and the Latinx Law Students Association (LLSA).