San Francisco, CA — Today’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs in Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. Harvard is an important victory for those who believe colleges and universities must value inclusion, diversity, and equity.
“Affirmative action has always been a powerful tool for Asian Americans and other disadvantaged communities seeking to reduce and redress systemic discrimination,” stated Vincent Pan, CAA Co-Executive Director. “The court’s decision will make it harder for White conservatives and their divisive, political machinery to blame affirmative action for the real challenges facing Asian Americans seeking equitable representation in education, employment, business, government, or the media.”
Judge Burroughs found that Harvard did not intentionally discriminate against Asian Americans and that its race-conscious admissions program met the criteria of the law. The court had previously affirmed that colleges may consider race to promote the benefits of a diverse student body. It is expected that the attorneys for the plaintiffs will appeal as part of their broader and longstanding attempt to roll back civil rights protections in education and voting rights.
Pan added, “While Asian Americans continue to face and remain vulnerable to discrimination, our 50 years of achievements for the Chinese American community and civil rights make it clear that affirmative action is part of the solution, and the attacks against it ignore everything we know about why college admissions are truly unfair for everyone.”
In January, CAA joined Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) and 31 other Asian American groups and higher education faculty groups in a post-trial amicus brief, to support race-conscious admissions at Harvard University. CAA has prioritized equal access to quality education for Asian Americans since its founding in 1969, including work to win the constitutional rights of limited-English proficient K-12 students, and establishing the 10,000 student Chinatown campus of City College of San Francisco.
Sally Chen, Economic Justice Program Manager at CAA, and a recent Harvard graduate who led student organizing around the case commented, “The court made the right decision today, but Harvard can and should do more to improve its commitment to inclusion, diversity, and equity. Disregarding the context of race is unconscionable and ultimately harms our communities.”
Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) is a community-based civil rights organization in San Francisco. Our mission is to protect the civil and political rights of Chinese Americans and to advance multiracial democracy in the United States. We advocate for systemic change that protects immigrant rights, promotes language diversity, and remedies racial injustice.