‘Race-Blind Admissions Is An Act Of Erasure’: Harvard Students Testify In Third Week Of Trial

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Neetu Arnold Contributor
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Current and former Harvard University students defended affirmative action, Monday during the third week of trial in a lawsuit accusing the school of discriminating against Asian-American applicants.

The courtroom was packed with minority students who wore light blue #DefendDiversity T-shirts, WGBH reported Monday.

A total of eight current and former students came to the university’s defense, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Vietnamese-American and Harvard senior Thang Diep was one of the students who testified Monday.

“I personally benefitted from affirmative action,” Diep said at the trial, The Harvard Crimson reported. “It allows my immigration history to be taken into account, my own experiences taken into account.” (RELATED: Here Is What Harvard Looks For In Future Students)

Diep sent portions of his application to court in the summer to help defend the school, The Crimson reported. He scored high on the personal rating, school GPA and extracurricular portions of the application. He had a SAT score of 2060, which the alumni interviewer considered as “on the lower end of the Harvard average.”

Alumnus Itzel Libertad Vasquez-Rodriguez did not want the number of minorities to fall because “it would be catastrophic to a person like me,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reported. She recounted feeling uncomfortable for walking into buildings named for white men and for seeing many white people on campus.

“All of my life’s ambitions revolve around communities of color and my ethno-racial identity,” Vasquez-Rodriguez said at the witness stand, WGBH reported.

Vasquez-Rodriguez is a Mexican-American who wrote about growing up in Southern California as a Chicana for her application to the school, according to WGBH. She graduated in 2017 with cum laude, the third highest honors at the university.

2016 graduate and previous Harvard Black Student Association President Sarah Cole felt that getting rid of affirmative action would not make her seen, according to The Chronicle.

“Race-blind admissions is an act of erasure,” Cole said, The Chronicle reported. “To try to not see my race is to try to not see me.”

Students for Fair Admissions, a group that opposes race-based admissions in higher education, filed a lawsuit against Harvard in 2014 believing the school held Asian-American applicants to higher standards.

The trial is predicted to end Friday at the Boston federal court, according to The Crimson. Appeals, however, could bring the case to the Supreme Court.

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