Today marks the fourth day of the trial over Harvard’s use of racein their admissions process. The trial, taking place in a Boston federal court, could potentially impact the future of affirmative action in college admissions.
The suit against Harvard was brought against the university on the behalf of Asian-American students by the Students for Fair Admissions, claiming that they discriminate against Asian-American students. The Students for Fair Admissions is known as an anti-affirmative action group.
Appeals of the court's eventual decision could bring the long debated practice of affirmative action before the Supreme Court. While the court has upheld affirmative action in the past, the new conservative-leaning court may rule against considering race as a factor in the college admissions process.
Harvard has denied any allegations of racial discrimination. In his opening statement Monday, Harvard Lawyer Bill Lee said, “Harvard does not discriminate and has not discriminated against Asian-Americans.”
Former Secretary of Education and Harvard Graduate School of Education Professor Paul Reville joined Boston Public Radio to weigh in on the trial and the future of affirmative action.
“Should admission into our most elite institutions be solely on the basis of academic performance? Harvard could fill its entering class every year with exclusively valedictorians if that's what it wanted,” Reville said.
“Instead Harvard is saying, I think reasonably and legitimately, we want to prepare leaders for the future," said Reville. "At a certain standard we have to determine that people can do the work here, but above that standard there are a great, many more people who are able to do the work than we have places to fill. We want to fill out a class that has some measure of variety and diversity in it... we want a class that looks like the America in which we hope our students will lead and succeed, and so we are going to look at a variety of other indicators in making our final decision and we ought to have the right to do that,” Reville continued.
Reville pointed out that Asian-Americans would not even be the racial group that would benefit the most if the court ruled in their favor; that would be whites.
“My understanding is that it would affect Asian-Americans enrollment by two or three percentage points. It would affect white enrollment by six to eight percentage points. Whites have the most to gain by a ruling against Harvard in this case,” Reville said.