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Admissions Lawsuit Trial Date Set for Oct. 2018

The College's admissions office is located on 86 Brattle Street.
The College's admissions office is located on 86 Brattle Street. By Jacqueline S. Chea
By Delano R. Franklin and Samuel W. Zwickel, Crimson Staff Writers

The pending lawsuit alleging the College discriminates against Asian American applicants in its admissions process will go to trial Oct. 15, according to a May 23 court filing.

In the filing, Allison D. Burroughs, the U.S. District Court judge who will hear the case in Boston, outlined a specific timeline for pre-trial proceedings as well as for the trial phase itself.

Burroughs set dates throughout September for designated meetings between the lawyers for the plaintiffs—members of the anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions—and lawyers for Harvard. During these meetings, the lawyers will determine which experts and witnesses will provide testimony at the trial. The two parties will also confer in September regarding what information and documents they will present as evidence in the trial.

The trial will commence with “optional” opening statements and presentation of evidence Oct. 15 and proceedings will “generally” occur from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. over the course of several weeks at the United States District Court in Boston. A jury will not be present for the trial.

In a previous hearing in April, Burroughs said three weeks would likely form an appropriate duration for the trial.

The scheduling orders mark the latest development in an ongoing lawsuit filed against Harvard by Students for Fair Admissions in Nov. 2014.

The outcome of the lawsuit may have far-reaching consequences for the status of race-conscious admissions policies at private universities throughout the country.

While Students for Fair Admissions alleges the College’s admissions process is discriminatory and illegal, the College has repeatedly maintained it “does not discriminate against applicants from any group in its admissions processes.”

The order comes roughly six weeks after an April 10 hearing in which Burroughs ruled a small portion of more than 90,000 pages of files related to the College’s admissions process and individual student applicants will become public. Lawyers for the two parties must confer to produce redacted sets of certain documents over coming months, and more information could become public as the lawsuit goes to trial.

Burroughs previously set a June 15 deadline for the parties to submit filings regarding a dispositive motion—a motion to dismiss portions of the case without proceeding to trial. Though lawyers for Students for Fair Admissions have previously stated the plaintiffs will request summary judgement, they also noted the “diametrically opposed” arguments of the parties make resolution at this stage unlikely.

Edward Blum, president of Students for Fair Admissions, wrote in an emailed statement Wednesday that the group “looks forward to filing our dispositive motion next month as well as the trial in October.”

Another May 23 order outlines the summer filing deadlines: amicus briefs in support of and in opposition to the dispositive motion must be filed by July 30 and August 30, respectively. The order also states the parties must meet before June 15 to discuss whether certain filings should remain sealed.

—Staff writer Delano R. Franklin can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @delanofranklin_.

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