SFFA VS Harvard: Final Arguments on the Last Day of Trial




Last Friday, lawyers representing both Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) delivered their closing arguments to the court, concluding a three-week-long trial over the University’s admission policies.


Closing arguments largely rehashed the points that both sides have been working to convince presiding Judge Allison Burroughs of for the past 15 days. John Hughes, the lawyer representing the SFFA, continued asserting that Harvard’s admission practices, made unprecedentedly public throughout the proceedings, contain an unfair disadvantage for Asian American applicants who are stereotyped as “book smart and one-dimensional” and are systematically punished by admissions officers in their personal scores.


William Lee ‘72, the lead lawyer representing the University, argued that the SFFA is working to “drastically reduce the number of African American and Hispanic students” in institutions of higher education, referencing Ed Blum’s prior attempts to challenge affirmative action policies in court using white plaintiffs. Lee also argued that Harvard admissions officers are told not to use race as a factor when assigning personal scores, and that the SFFA had failed to bring an Asian American witness to the stand supporting their side.


The lawsuit was a bench trial, meaning that no jury will be consulted in reaching a decision. It is unknown when Judge Burroughs will release her decision in the case. However, it is predicted that whatever decision is released will be hotly contested, giving this case the potential to reach the Supreme Court, which given its recent rightward slant, could have serious implications for the future of affirmative action policies.

Segan Helle (shelle@college.harvard.edu)  is an Asian-American student at Harvard College who will provide updates when the decision is announced.