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
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.