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Asian American and Pacific Islander groups file amicus brief in support of UNC’s race-conscious admissions policies

North Carolina Asian Americans Together and a coalition of other groups are taking a stand in support of UNC’s position to continue their race-conscious admission policies. Here’s more from the good folks at NCAAT:

North Carolina Asian Americans Together (NCAAT) has joined with Asian Americans Advancing Justice (an affiliation of five civil rights organizations) alongside over 60 Asian American groups, 25 professors, and Fox Rothschild LLP in filing an amicus brief today in support of race-conscious holistic admissions at the UNC Chapel Hill. Participants in this brief whole-heartedly attest that race-conscious admissions policies result in more equitable and integrated universities and enhance the educational experiences of all students.

This amicus brief opposes the lawsuit filed by conservative activist Ed Blum and his group Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) to end race-conscious admissions at universities. In their briefing, SFFA suggest that in addition to whites, Asian Americans are also supposedly disadvantaged by UNC’s race-conscious admissions policy.

“A ‘color-blind’ admissions policy is not race-neutral; it merely reinforces racial segregation and widens existing disparities in educational opportunities for people of color, including many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs),” said Nicole Gon Ochi, supervising attorney at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles. “We refuse to be used as a weapon to dismantle programs that increase opportunities for students of color.”

The consideration of race in university admissions, one of many factors in the admissions process, has been critical for many schools to fully understand an applicant’s background and experiences beyond test scores.

“The data shows that these policies help all students of color, including Asian Americans,” said Dr. OiYan Poon, assistant professor of Higher Education and director of the Race & Intersectional Studies for Educational Equity (RISE Center) at Colorado State University. “Removing the consideration of race in admissions would hurt the most marginalized of AAPI students and be detrimental to the educational climate and environment, from which all students benefit.”

Race-conscious admission policies have been credited with offsetting the inherent racial biases of other admission factors, such as SAT/ACT scores. They are also a factor in creating more diverse student bodies on university campuses that more closely reflect regional or national demographics. Studies show that colleges and universities that reach the highest levels of diversity have fewer incidents of racial hostility. Students report having a more positive learning experience in schools with race-conscious admission processes.

“Removing the consideration of race at UNC would be a disservice to all communities of color, including the diverse AAPI subgroups in North Carolina,” said Chavi Khanna Koneru, executive director of North Carolina Asian Americans Together. “Our state is home to significant ethnic minority communities from Southeast Asia who experience varying economic and educational barriers. Saying that Asian Americans are not underrepresented minorities at UNC only obscures the needs of underrepresented Asian Americans.”

“The growing Southeast Asian community in our state is not a monolith; each student deserves the holistic review long prized by our state’s flagship university,” said Matthew Nis Leerberg, North Carolina-based partner at national law firm Fox Rothschild LLP. “We are proud to have had the opportunity to work alongside Asian Americans Advancing Justice to speak for that community on an issue critical to the future of our State and the nation.”

NCAAT and Asian Americans Advancing Justice stand firmly in support of UNC, race-conscious admission policies, and all students of color. We will continue to fight alongside other communities of color for greater equity and justice in this country.

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