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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Press Release - The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Supreme Court Rally on Fisher v. Texas: Speakers, Students, and Advocates Speak Out

For Immediate Release
Contact: Scott Simpson, 202.466.2061, simpson@civilrights.org
October 10, 2012

(Washington, D.C.) Today, a wide range of organizations, institutions and individuals who support educational opportunity are rallying at the U.S. Supreme Court during oral arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas.

The Fisher case has implications for diversity, educational opportunity, the future of our workforce, and America’s global competitiveness. Therefore, civil rights, corporate, social justice, political, and student leaders are standing united for opportunity before the Supreme Court.

Below are quotes from a subset of the rally’s speakers, students, and stakeholders:

Wade Henderson, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights:

“The University of Texas has created a fair process for expanding opportunity. Within a group of qualified applicants, universities should be able to consider factors in addition to test scores to create a diverse learning environment that prepares students for the real world. Many students of color face extra obstacles to success not faced by others, and when students do well despite these obstacles, universities should be able to give them a chance to succeed. This was true nine years ago when the Supreme Court last considered this question, and it remains true today.”

Thomas Saenz, President and General Counsel of MALDEF:

"Equal educational opportunity remains an elusive goal in Texas as throughout the nation.  Texas, in particular, has faced and continues to face ongoing inequities in its funding of public schools; because of segregation, these disparities correlate strongly with race.  This and other educational inequities, while not strictly a part of the constitutional test in this case, are critical context in evaluating a program designed to ensure that all university students receive the benefits of student body diversity."

Marcia Greenberger, Founder and Co-President of the National Women's Law Center:

“Diverse colleges and universities will not happen on their own. If we don’t cultivate diversity, the persistent effects of often unconscious stereotypes and other obstacles to success will result in too many women being shut out from opportunity and will narrow the experience of us all.  For these reasons, businesses, the military, and our nation’s institutions have supported affirmative action policies as effective and modest approaches to providing students of all backgrounds a fair shot at our nation’s universities.”

Debo P. Adegbile, Acting President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund:

“As the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized, we should leave pathways to opportunity visibly open to everyone in our country. Colleges will be less diverse if race can’t be considered on applications. After colleges in California stopped considering race, the number of African American students at UCLA and Berkeley declined significantly. For many students, college is the first time they have meaningful opportunities to interact with people from vastly different backgrounds.”

Mee Moua, President and Executive Director of the Asian American Justice Center:

"Asian Americans, along with all students, benefit from the diversity achieved by admissions programs like those UT Austin has in place.  I stand with the leaders within the Asian American community and state our position plainly, we continue to stand in support of providing equal opportunity in higher education. Diversity in higher education settings prepares students for living, working, and leading in the global community in which we all now live."

Tom L. Hayashi, Executive Director, OCA:

“As one of the leading national civil rights organization for the APA community, OCA has stood ardently for equal opportunity in education as well as employment.  We must not lose decades of ground gained in our social justice struggle in support of historically oppressed individuals and groups.  It would be unimaginable to face an alternate reality which would  destroy one of the most  effective public policy apparatus for equalizing gross racial and socio-economic disparities.” 

Deepa Iyer, Executive Director, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT):

“Despite the ongoing debate on the issue, South Asian Americans benefit from individualized, holistic admissions programs like that of University of Texas at Austin.  Programs like this that do not focus on quotas or limit admissions of any particular race are crucial to providing individuals in our communities with a fair chance of overcoming obstacles to educational opportunity.  Additionally, educational diversity benefits our entire society by dispelling stereotypes, which can help reduce harassment, bias-motivated incidents, and hate crimes, as well as preparing students for the diverse workforce and global economy in which we currently live.”

Margaret Fung, Executive Director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund:

"AALDEF has been at the forefront of fighting for equal opportunity for Asian Americans. UT-Austin's affirmative action policy, which includes race as one of several diversity considerations in the admissions process, is necessary to advance the educational opportunities of Asian Americans. It creates a diverse learning environment comprised of students with the greatest potential, and it benefits all students, including Asian Americans." 

Michelle Lee, Student at University of California San Diego:

“I don't think that just grades and test scores are the best way to decide who should be admitted to a college or university because there is so much more that makes a person than just that. Colleges and universities should consider a whole person and everything they bring, including the different experiences they have because of their race.”

Gregory A. Cendana, Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance:

"APALA is proud to stand with our partners to ensure equal opportunity and a fair chance for all Americans. Our members, many who are students and educators, understand the importance of having colleges and universities that are just as diverse as the cities and country they are in. We understand that each person brings a variety of experiences to the table, including the ones they have because of their race, and those shouldn't be treated any differently."

Doua Thor, Executive Director of the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center:

"The Southeast Asia Resource Action Center stands in strong support for policies such as the University of Texas' diversity program that recognizes the barriers that exist for racial minorities, low-income, first-generation college students, the resilience that comes from overcoming these challenges, and the assets that those experiences bring to all students, our workforce, and our country as a whole.  Contrary to the model-minority-myth, Southeast Asian students face tremendous barriers in education.  We represent the many faces that have benefited from this diversity program." 

Raul Gonzalez, Director of Legislative Affairs, National Council of La Raza:

“The Fisher case is of profound importance to the Hispanic community.  More than one in three Hispanics is under 18 years old.  These children and youth will be a large part of the future workforce, and they should have a significant presence on college campuses.  The University’s policies are fair, lawful, and serve our national interests.  For these reasons, they must be upheld by the Supreme Court.”

Tanya Clay House, Public Policy Director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

“Race still matters and shapes much of a student's life experiences. We know that the educational benefits of diversity flow to all students and it is crucial that the Court's consideration of this case be informed by the vast amounts of research showing these benefits depend on both the character and the frequency of interactions among students."

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