The Law in Education – Students Press for Affirmative Action – Podcast Episode 229 | Classnotes Podcast 229

Classnotes Podcast (October 26, 2022). On October 31, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear two cases that have the potential to radically re-write the rules for colleges to seek and rely on information about students’ race, ethnicity, national origin, and other core identity factors in their admissions decisions. The cases, Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College (No. 19-2005) and Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina (No. 21-2263) challenge the schools’ ability to fairly evaluate the qualifications and experience of college applicants and invite the court to depart from decades-old precedent establishing the value of diversity in education.

While the focus of the litigation has been on the university defendants, students and alumni across the country have been fighting to defend diversity in higher education – and beyond. In this episode in our series on the law in education, IDRA’s education law intern, Makiah Lyons, facilitates a deep and dynamic conversation with two students and alumni from Harvard and UNC who served as intervenors and amici in the case.

Itzel Vasquez-Rodríguez is a 2017 Harvard College graduate and is now a first-year graduate student in the master of public policy program with a focus on water policy at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. Andrew Brennan attended the UNC at Chapel Hill and received a bachelor’s degree in political science and is currently pursuing a master’s in education policy and management at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. For this discussion, they were joined by Paige Duggins-Clay, J.D., and Taylor Dumpson, J.D.

Show length: 36:33 min

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Affirmative Action – The Law in Education, IDRA webpage with history and resources

Defend Diversity website

Amicus brief: Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. Harvard and UNC, August 1, 2022

Supreme Court Should Reaffirm Diversity as Compelling Interest, Uphold Holistic College Admissions, IDRA Statement, August 4, 2022

SCOTUS Blog: Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College

SCOTUS Blog: Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina

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Show Notes

  • Taylor gives an overview of what’s at stake in the Supreme Court cases.

  • Itzel and Andrew talk about their time as students at Harvard and UNC, respectively, and share how they got involved in the cases. They also reflect on how their college experiences were shaped by their own personal identities.

  • The Supreme Court could rule to bar schools from considering a student’s race in the admissions process. Itzel and Andrew consider how such a restriction would have impacted their ability to describe themselves, and their qualifications, back when they applied for college.

  • Iztel shares what participating in a civil rights case has meant for her.

  • Andrew stresses the importance of not falling prey to a “zero-sum mindset” in discussions of race and diversity on college campuses.

  • Makiah asks Taylor, Itzel and Andrew what they would say if they could tell the Supreme Court anything.