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United States Student Association and Demos Urge Supreme Court to Uphold Diversity in Higher Education
WASHINGTON - August 14 - The United States Student Association (“USSA”), the nation’s oldest and largest student-run, student-led organization, yesterday filed a brief amicus curiae supporting the constitutionality of the University of Texas’ undergraduate admissions program, which is being challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court in Fisher v. University of Texas, No. 11-345. USSA is comprised of more than four million students with diverse backgrounds who are currently enrolled in American colleges and universities. Demos, a non-partisan policy organization dedicated to fostering a more inclusive democracy and expanding economic opportunity, provided statistical research support and legal counsel to USSA.
According to Kalwis Lo, USSA’s Legislative Director, the brief seeks “to express to the Court USSA’s strong belief, based on the experience of its millions of members, that a student body that is both academically qualified and broadly diverse provides invaluable educational, social and professional benefits, and that an admissions program such as that adopted by UT will advance those compelling interests.”
The amicus brief was prepared with the assistance of pro bono counsel Shearman & Sterling and Demos, a national public policy and advocacy center. As the brief states:
Today’s college-age students are part of a generation for which the importance of diversity in higher education has never been greater. They are more diverse than the general population, more diverse than the same age group was even 10 years ago, and they will emerge into a workforce that is more diverse than any past generation’s. Yet, because of residential segregation, large numbers of America’s young people have been and will continue to be deprived of any opportunity for cross-racial interaction in schools at the elementary and secondary level. Institutions of higher education thus have a critical role to play in providing the opportunity for a diverse education that is necessary to college students’ future success in the workplace and as citizens and leaders.
Jonathan Greenblatt, a Shearman & Sterling partner who serves as counsel of record for USSA as amicus in the case, said: "UT’s admissions program is entirely consistent with Supreme Court precedent establishing diversity as a compelling government interest. We strongly believe it should be approved by the Court."
Diversity in higher education benefits our democracy.
“Diversity in higher education benefits our democracy,” said Brenda Wright, Vice President for Legal Strategies at Demos and one of the co-counsel for USSA. “By gaining exposure to peers with differing backgrounds and experiences, students become better informed voters, jurors, school board and neighborhood association members, civic and military leaders and generally more engaged participants in their communities and in public affairs.”
The Court upheld the use of race as one factor among many in admissions just nine years ago, in Grutter v. Bollinger. The Fisher case will be argued before the Supreme Court on October 10, 2012.