A More Informative Trial

11-2 Trial

Updated Nov. 21, 2018 at 1:34 a.m.

A new court order has raised the possibility that the Harvard admissions trial may stretch well into 2019. In December and January, Harvard and the group bringing the lawsuit, Students for Fair Admissions, plan to submit more briefs. On Feb. 13, Judge Allison D. Burroughs will hear arguments from Harvard and SFFA. Additionally, outside parties will be permitted to submit amicus briefs again.

Here, Harvard has an additional opportunity to provide context regarding its admissions policies. If there is more information available to Burroughs, then she can make a more informed decision. Furthermore, the more time Harvard has to explain the way it admits students, the more the process can be scrutinized. This will demonstrate to the world the benefits of Harvard’s admissions process, but also lay the foundation for future improvements that University administrators will hopefully make to the system.

This case has important ramifications for affirmative action and may affect every private college in America — the fight to defend diversity is not over. In the past, the Supreme Court has struck down the use of a quota system; however, the use of race as a factor in admissions is still acceptable. This trial is likely to make it to the Supreme Court, where the legality of race-conscious admissions may be modified or overturned. We have previously opined on the importance of race in admissions processes, and we stand by our belief that this process makes for a fairer and more diverse admissions process. The student body should thus continue its defense affirmative action.


Given the stakes of the trial, we implore students to be informed on both the details and the implications of the case, which are definitely not clear-cut. Both SFFA and Harvard have hired statisticians to support their case. Duke economics professor Peter S. Arcidiacono and University of California, Berkeley economics professor David E. Card have created models of Harvard’s admissions process, and have come to opposite conclusions on whether Harvard discriminates against Asian Americans in its admissions process. The implications of the data remain unclear.

We believe that more information is better. We thus welcome the opportunity the additional briefings and hearing afford Harvard to drive home its arguments, especially given the historic nature of this case.

This staff editorial is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.

Correction: Nov. 21, 2018

An earlier version of this editorial incorrectly indicated that the Harvard admissions trial is being extended, and that Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions will present new evidence in filings and a hearing scheduled for the next three months. In fact, the post-trial schedule follows standard judicial procedure for bench trials, and the trial is not being extended. The two sides will not be presenting additional evidence.


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