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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

University files for summary judgment in case about race-conscious admissions

The University filed a motion Jan. 18 asking a federal judge to rule in its favor without a trial in the latest phase of a 2014 lawsuit that seeks to eliminate the consideration of race in U.S. college admissions. 

Carolina is one of three leading universities targeted by the private, Virginia-based Students For Fair Admissions Inc. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected similar claims against the University of Texas at Austin in 2016. A federal judge in Massachusetts has yet to decide the group’s lawsuit against Harvard University, which went to trial in fall 2018. In its motion, the University insisted that its holistic admissions approach is “constitutionally sound” and complies fully with the spirit and the letter of the law. 

Nearly 30 companies and nonprofits — including IBM, Microsoft, Yum! Brands and eBay along with others based in North Carolina — who reported that they “hire hundreds of UNC graduates each year” supported the University with a separate filing the same day. In their amicus brief, the companies said that they believe “racial and ethnic diversity are indispensable” in their workplaces because “diversity fuels collaboration and innovation, two important ingredients for success in business and scientific research.”

In a campus email dated Jan. 18, Chancellor Carol L. Folt and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Robert A. Blouin stood by the University’s values and admissions practices. “We will continue to vigorously defend our position in this nationally significant case,” they wrote. 

“We are proud of the contributions our students make in our community, and we want each of you to know that you rightfully earned your place here. We are grateful you chose to attend Carolina and look forward to all you will accomplish in the future,” the letter continued. “The opportunity to live and learn in a diverse community that represents a broad range of backgrounds, talents and life experiences is critical to your personal and professional development.”

To learn more about the case, visit admissionslawsuit.unc.edu. The site will be updated as the case continues.