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(Cambridge, Mass.) – The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Massachusetts heard arguments from civil rights groups today in SFFA v. Harvard, regarding Harvard’s race-conscious admissions policy. The groups argued that the policy must be upheld to ensure selective colleges do not overlook remarkable, well-rounded underrepresented students of color. The following are statements from several civil rights groups who presented oral arguments before the court today:

“We will not undo 40 years of progress on improving racial diversity in higher education, and this argument made clear that everyone, no matter their background, must have an equal opportunity to achieve their full potential,” said David Hinojosa, director of the Educational Opportunities Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The court must recognize that diversity and inclusivity in the classroom is essential to ending the systemic racism and structural inequality that pervades our nation. This is an important case for everyone who feels that their race is more of a burden than it is a benefit.”

“We hope that the First Circuit will uphold Harvard’s race conscious admissions policies.  Data shows that a majority of Asian Americans support affirmative action policies,” said Niyati Shah, director of litigation representing Asian Americans Advancing Justice. “Yet noted partisan Ed Blum and his organization SFFA have attempted to use Asian Americans as a wedge between fellow communities of color.  That is why we are representing the multi-racial group of students, including Asian Americans, who are determined to maintain race conscious admissions policies.”