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February 20, 2003

Pitt files friend of court brief in support of Michigan

Pitt has filed an amicus curia (friend of the court) brief, joined by several other public research universities, in support of the University of Michigan in two lawsuits involving affirmative action. Pitt announced its action in a statement yesterday, Feb. 19.

Both University of Michigan lawsuits, set to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this spring, involve employing academic selectivity and racial diversity in admissions policies. Michigan has argued that in order to achieve meaningful diversity in its student body, which is integral to the school’s educational mission, race must be taken into account in the admissions process.

In its statement announcing the filing, Pitt maintains, “Not every college or university faces identical enrollment management issues. Therefore, it clearly is not desirable for the nation to be governed by a ‘one size fits all’ approach to access to higher education. Instead, it is important that individual institutions have the freedom to design admissions programs that meet their particular challenges and effectively advance their own goals.”

Among other arguments, the brief challenges the contention that so-called “percentage plans,” that is, guaranteeing university admission to any high school graduate who has achieved a specified class rank, would be an effective national approach to advancing what has been recognized as the compelling educational interest in diversity, Pitt’s statement said.

“As is reflected in the University’s brief, we believe that the needs of society will best be served by decisions that foster both diverse student bodies and diverse admissions practices,” Pitt said.

On Tuesday, Carnegie Mellon filled a similar amicus curia brief on behalf of 38 private universities nationwide.

The full text of Pitt’s statement is available on the University’s web page:

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