Landmark Decision in Fisher v. Texas Falls on Side of Diversity and Inclusion

Press Release

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Amicus brief filed on behalf of 35 leading social scientists by Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and Equal Justice Society, argued that UT Austin's admissions policy should be allowed to consider race

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June 23, 2016: The Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley enthusiastically applauds the ruling passed down today by the Supreme Court in the Fisher v. Texas case.

In this landmark decision, the Supreme Court reaffirms the importance of diversity in higher education by upholding the Holistic Admissions Plan of the University of Texas, which considered racial diversity among other factors to ensure a diverse student body. 

Together, the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, The Equal Justice Society, and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati authored and filed a friend-of-the-Court(amicus) brief on behalf of the University of Texas. This brief, which relied on the expertise of 35 prominent social scientists, demonstrated the benefits of diversity and the need for consideration of race in the University’s admissions decisions. 

In particular, the brief argued that the pathways to opportunity remain deeply unequal across the United States, and that Black and Latino students’ relative disadvantage in university admissions results from dozens of factors, including persistent patterns of racial and economic segregation. Given the complexity of variables that shape educational outcomes, the authors of the brief argued that an admissions policy limited to race-neutral factors could not capture their cumulative effect on educational opportunity. The brief also presented research to the Supreme Court illuminating how diversity improves academic performance, reduces prejudice, lowers stress and psychological barriers, and has broad positive effects on workforce development.

Haas Institute Director john a. powell, one of the brief's co-authors, noted, “This decision gives hope to other institutions of higher education seeking to increase the diversity of their student body through race-conscious admissions plans, and marks a new day for equity in education.”

By upholding the University of Texas’s race-conscious admissions policy, the Court recognized the educational benefits of diversity and the need for future professionals who can understand and excel in a diverse workplace. More importantly, the Court has allowed for an effective template for other schools to follow to achieve the benefits of a diverse class.

This decision should serve as a strong example of the work that has been done and the willingness of the Court to work towards a goal of true equity in education. As the Court stated, “it remains an enduring challenge to our Nation’s education system to reconcile the pursuit of diversity with the constitutional promise of equal treatment and dignity.”

Hopefully, this decision will encourage universities to come up with new and more effective methods of increasing diversity in their incoming classes. This will undoubtedly be a difficult task, but one that is essential to ensuring the goal of true diversity in education for the benefit of realizing a truly fair and inclusive society.

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MEDIA CONTACT

Rachelle Galloway-Popotas
galloway.popotas@berkeley.edu
Tel: 510-642-3326 or 510-329-0032

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Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley is a research institute bringing together scholars, community stakeholders, policymakers, and communicators to identify and challenge the barriers to an inclusive, just, and sustainable society in order to create transformative change.

The Equal Justice Society (http://equaljusticesociety.org) is transforming the nation’s consciousness on race through law, social science, and the arts. Led by President Eva Paterson, our legal strategy aims to broaden conceptions of present-day discrimination to include unconscious and structural bias by using social science, structural analysis, and real-life experience. Currently, EJS targets its advocacy efforts on school discipline, special education, and the school-to-prison pipeline, race-conscious remedies, and inequities in the criminal justice system. The Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit also engages the arts and artists in creating work and performances that allow wider audiences to understand social justice issues and struggles.

For more than 50 years, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (http://wsgr.com) has offered a broad range of services and legal disciplines focused on serving the principal challenges faced by the management and boards of directors of business enterprises. The firm is nationally recognized as a leader in the fields of corporate governance and finance, mergers and acquisitions, private equity, securities litigation, employment law, intellectual property, and antitrust, among many other areas of law.