Document Type

Conference Proceeding

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Journal Title or Book Title

Northeast Division of the Decisions Sciences Institue (NEDSI) 2019


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The value of diversity in the workplace, classroom, and c-suite is universally proclaimed as a given by scholars, experts and even the courts. In the abstract this presumption may be true, but in application the concept of inclusively having a diverse workplace or a diverse elite college student body is problematic. Fraught with incongruent denotations and insurmountable applications, achieving a critical mass of historically underrepresented employees or students resulting in a diverse workplace or student body is elusive if not unattainable. In Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. (SFFA) v President and Fellows of Harvard College (Harvard University), the United States District Court, and eventually the United States Supreme Court will weigh in on the value, definition, and legally permissible process to achieve diversity in creating a college class. The holistic admissions process employed by Harvard has been cited by previous courts as an example of the appropriate balance of being race conscious and color blind to achieve the optimal learning environment for colleges to prepare students to productively excel in a diverse society. This paper will summarize the history of the federal court system’s attempt to reconcile society’s simultaneous desire to create diversity and avoid discrimination based on those same classifications necessary to consider in order to achieve said goal. From the Bakke v University of California at Davis decision to prohibit quotas, but allowed race to be considered as one of many factors to achieve diversity to the Gratz and Grutter cases against the University of Michigan and University of Michigan Law School which were decided based on the weight race was awarded as a deciding factor in admission. Fisher v University of Texas( I and II) affirmed the Equal Protection Clause standard to be applied to test the state’s use of race conscious albeit holistic standards in their admission’s selection process. The current lawsuit against Harvard alleging discrimination based on race in their holistic admissions process will be examined from the viewpoint of how to define and achieve the appropriate level of diversity within the environment of a changing United States Supreme Court. If the Harvard case, as many believe, makes its way to the high court, what will be the consequences of eliminating race as a permissible variable in college admissions processes?

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