MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - Middlebury College has joined 32 liberal arts colleges in signing an amicus curiae brief filed with the Supreme Court of the United States in support of Harvard College and the University of North Carolina and the legality of an admissions process that considers race as one among many factors. Amherst College organized the brief for this group of schools, which details the compelling interest of a racially diverse student body for liberal arts colleges, consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision in the landmark Bakke case nearly 45 years ago. The brief aligns with Middlebury’s deep commitment to creating a diverse, welcoming community with full and equitable participation for all individuals and groups. Removing the ability to consider race as one factor among many in the admissions process threatens this effort.
“Each college deliberately seeks to enroll and house on campus a highly diverse group of students—from different states and countries; from urban and rural backgrounds; homeschooled, private-schooled, and public-schooled; with differing economic circumstances; with different kinds of experiences, talent, or athletic ability; students who will be the first in their families to go to college and, among some of Amici, students with family connections to the schools,” reads the brief. “Studies consistently show that diversity—including racial diversity—meaningfully improves learning experiences, complex thinking, and non-cognitive abilities. Diversity also generates pedagogical innovations and decreases prejudice. These benefits are especially pronounced at liberal arts colleges and small universities, where smaller class sizes lead to greater engagement among diverse students.”
The brief also includes a stark prediction: “A decision overturning Grutter … would deal a powerful blow against [colleges and universities’] effort to assemble diverse student bodies.”
Although briefing in Supreme Court cases is due before the argument, the next Supreme Court term does not begin until October and a decision is not expected until spring 2023. Signing the brief is consistent with goals Middlebury outlined in its Action Plan for Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. As the plan states, “The work of promoting racial justice, eliminating oppression, and creating a more equitable and inclusive community falls on all of us.”