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~Wellesley Joins Liberal Arts Colleges in Support of Affirmative Action~

For immediate release:
Mar. 3, 2003

CONTACT:
Mary Ann Hill,
781-283-2376


WELLESLEY, Mass. -- Wellesley has joined 27 other selective liberal arts colleges in a "friend of the court" (amicus curiae) brief to the Supreme Court in support of the University of Michigan in its upcoming case testing affirmative action in admissions. In the brief, the schools ask the court to preserve the freedom of colleges and universities to consider an applicant's race as one of many factors in the application process.

The colleges argue that student diversity is essential to a "rich, deep training in diverse subject matters, in residential settings where education is intended to take place not only in the classroom but throughout four years on campus with classmates from different backgrounds and with different experiences, who arrive with different viewpoints."

In addition to Wellesley, the brief was signed by Amherst, Barnard, Bates, Bowdoin, Bryn Mawr, Carleton, Colby, Connecticut, Davidson, Franklin and Marshall, Hamilton, Hampshire, Haverford, Macalester, Middlebury, Mount Holyoke, Oberlin, Pomona, Sarah Lawrence, Smith, Swarthmore, Trinity, Vassar, and Williams Colleges, and Colgate, Wesleyan, and Tufts Universities. The court is scheduled to hear oral arguments April 1 in two lawsuits filed in 1997 by three university applicants opposing the University of Michigan's undergraduate and law school admissions policies.

At its January meeting, the Wellesley Board of Trustees had an in-depth discussion of the Michigan cases and their possible implications for the college. The members of the board approved a resolution confirming their commitment to diversity as "an essential aspect of a Wellesley education." The resolution stated, "The Board understands a diversity of viewpoints to be a necessary precondition for educational vitality and sees identity and experience, including racial and ethnic background, as among the important sources of the viewpoint diversity that enhances learning in a community of inquiry."

The full text of the amicus curiae brief can be found online at http://www.umich.edu/~urel/admissions/legal/gra_amicus-ussc/um/Amherst-both.pdf (1.3 megabytes).

Founded in 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in liberal arts and the education of women for more than 125 years. The College's 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate students.

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