Contact: Sarah Ray
Posted: February 19, 2003

MIDDLEBURY, VT - In a brief filed Friday, Feb. 14, with the United States Supreme Court, Middlebury College joined a group of other colleges to urge the court to continue to support an educational institution’s ability to consider racial and ethnic diversity when admitting students. The document states that all kinds of diversity, including racial diversity, create the best environment for learning in the 21st century and encourage the exchange of multiple viewpoints.

The friend of the court brief was filed with 28 other colleges in two cases challenging the University of Michigan’s undergraduate and law school admissions systems. The group consisted of small, selective, private colleges from the northeast, such as Amherst, and from across the country, including Pomona and Oberlin.

Middlebury College President John M. McCardell Jr. said, “Middlebury College is pleased to join our fellow liberal arts colleges in submitting this brief. The position we take in it is consistent with our own policies and faithful to our history.” McCardell also noted that the first African-American college graduate was Alexander Twilight, a member of the Middlebury College class of 1823.

The brief stresses the particular concerns of small, competitive colleges, and states, “highly selective colleges cannot obtain the diversity they seek except by seeking it directly.” The document also declares that alternative methods for assuring a diverse student body, such as admitting a percentage of each high school class, will not work at these institutions.

Middlebury is one of a number of institutions filing such briefs. According to an article in the Tuesday, Feb. 18, edition of The New York Times, “A month after the Bush administration filed a brief with the Supreme Court opposing affirmative action policies at the University of Michigan, more than 300 organizations representing academia, major corporations, labor unions and nearly 30 of the nation’s top former military and civilian defense officials, announced that they would file briefs supporting the university by Tuesday’s deadline.”