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first_imgDuring a final court appearance, lawyers representing Harvard again rejected allegations of discrimination against Asian American applicants to the College and warned Wednesday afternoon of dire consequences for all students if a group of activists succeed in their effort to eliminate race and ethnicity from among the many factors considered in the admissions process.The lawsuit was initially filed in 2014 by Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), a group spearheaded by Edward Blum, a staunch opponent of race-conscious admissions who over many years has mounted legal assaults on civil rights protections for members of underrepresented minority groups. SFFA has filed a similar lawsuit against the University of North Carolina that claims the school uses race as more than a “plus” factor in admissions and has not explored other race-neutral alternatives to achieve diversity.Blum also was the driving force behind two earlier cases that challenged the use of a race in the holistic admissions process at the University of Texas at Austin. The first case was heard twice before the U.S. Supreme Court, which ultimately upheld the admissions policies. The second case, brought by SFFA, was recently dismissed.“We have trials because trials should be decided by the facts and evidence elicited under oath, not by unsupported accusations and vitriol directed at lawyers or individuals,” said William F. Lee, one of the lead attorneys in Harvard’s case.Lee, himself Asian American, said Harvard’s admissions process, which involves various checks and balances and a 40-person admissions committee, does not discriminate against Asian Americans, uses race as only one factor among many, and does not engage in racial balancing. He concluded that Harvard “could not achieve its educational mission without considering race in the admissions process.”In several previous decisions in recent decades, the Supreme Court has ruled that race can be considered as part of a university or college’s efforts to create a diverse learning environment for all students.During Wednesday’s session in Boston’s John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse, Judge Allison D. Burroughs interrupted the presentations briefly to ask SFFA attorney Adam Mortara why the plaintiff had never identified or presented as witnesses any students negatively affected by Harvard’s policies. “What am I supposed to do with the fact that you haven’t shown me any students you think should have gotten in?” the judge inquired.Harvard’s legal team jumped in.“Not a single application of any one of their standing members went into evidence,” said Lee, adding that he found SFFA’s failure to produce an admissions file or applicant “truly remarkable.”Lee said Harvard has worked hard to make its campus more diverse in the past 40 years, increasing the number of Asian American undergraduates from 3 percent in 1980 to the 22.7 percent admitted to the Class of 2022. The numbers of African-American and Hispanic students have also steadily increased, said Lee. That diversity is key to Harvard’s educational mission, he said, noting that the elimination of race in the University’s admissions policies would drastically reduce the number of Hispanic and African-American students in the first-year class.Such a result “would be wrong legally; it would be wrong morally,” said Lee.Kristin Penner ’89 and her daughter, Lilah Penner Brown ’23, arrived at the courthouse more than an hour before the hearing began, hoping for seats. Both were sporting the bright blue T-shirts of the Harvard and Radcliffe alumni and students organization Coalition for a Diverse Harvard, one of the 25 groups that have filed amicus briefs on behalf of the University.“This case is especially important to protect the diversity that I hope to experience in College,” said Penner Brown, who will enter Harvard in the fall.  “I am in support of diversity and race-conscious admissions. At the very core, that is why I am here.” — Harvard sophomore James Gui Admissions lawsuit enters second week Related Students, alumni speak from experience on power of diversity Penner, a member of the organization’s board of directors, said the group sees the case as “vital not just at Harvard but in higher education throughout the United States. That’s something that I care about so deeply. I hope that my children can have the same or better experience of getting to meet so many diverse people during college. It’s frightening to think about going backward rather than going forward.”Penner met her husband, who is African-American, at Harvard. She said it is important for biracial children to “have other people who are willing to stand up with [them]. It seems like having that critical mass is vital to feeling the confidence that your voice can be heard in college.”Nearby, six undergraduates from Amherst College in Western Massachusetts waited patiently, also hoping for a spot in the courtroom. The students, who drove through the previous day’s snow to attend, said they wanted to show solidarity with Harvard and to support its admissions policies.Since the last trial proceeding on Nov. 2, Harvard and SFFA have filed roughly 300 pages of posttrial briefs outlining what each side believes the facts have shown, how the law should be applied, and why the judge should rule in their favor. Last month, organizations supporting Harvard filed additional briefs in support of the University.Making his case for SFFA, Mortara again argued that a statistical analysis of several years of recent admissions files demonstrated that “racial stereotyping crept into Harvard’s process.” As in earlier hearings, Harvard’s lawyers responded that SFFA’s statistical model was flawed because it had excluded key data. Harvard’s admissions process, they argued, accounts for myriad factors, from school support ratings (including letters from teachers and guidance counselors) to student essays to ratings by alumni interviewers. These factors, they said, were more accurately incorporated into the analysis performed by Harvard’s statistical expert, David Card, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who specializes in labor economics.“Harvard’s analysis tries to model the actual admissions process,” said Harvard co-counsel Seth Waxman ’73.Citing previous Supreme Court admissions-case rulings requiring that each applicant be evaluated on an individual basis, and banning the use of race as a defining feature that makes a difference as to whether an applicant is accepted or rejected, Waxman said Harvard holds to that law “in every respect.”The fifth-floor courtroom was filled to capacity with onlookers, including Harvard students and alumni who stood against the back wall and sat in the aisles. Also in attendance were Harvard President Larry Bacow and William Fitzsimmons, the College’s dean of admissions and financial aid, and Marlyn McGrath, the director of admissions, who both testified in the fall.Genevieve Bonadies Torres, an attorney from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, representing prospective and current students and alumni, argued that SFFA had “engaged in its own act of erasure” by using an incomplete statistical analysis and ignoring important information in applicants’ files. She said that a diverse student body helps students confront stereotypes and counterbalance racial biases, and prepares them to face an increasingly complex world. Torres called Harvard’s process both “necessary and highly individualized.”“Eliminating the consideration of race would sharply reduce the number of black, Hispanic, and other minority students on campus,” said Torres. “All students would lose out from this decline.” Jennifer Holmes, a lawyer with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., spoke on behalf of the 25 Harvard student and alumni organizations that submitted amicus briefs supporting the University.Holmes cited the comments of student witnesses who said that “learning in a racially diverse student environment shaped their educational experiences,” while helping them build solidarity, challenge assumptions, and dispel stereotypes. Holmes called the lawsuit “an attack on Harvard’s ability to provide a racially inclusive and diverse educational environment from which all students benefit.”Harvard sophomore James Gui, who identifies as Asian American, came to court in the fall to support his friends who testified in Harvard’s defense. He was back on Wednesday.“I wanted to see it through to the end and show my support,” said Gui. “I am in support of diversity and race-conscious admissions. At the very core, that is why I am here.“Being able to live in a diverse environment has really opened my eyes,” he said, “not just to my own identity … but also to the identity of others.”Burroughs is expected to issue a final ruling in the coming months. Harvard supporters set to testify in admissions trial Harvard admissions trial begins today More Harvard officials to testify in trial challenging College’s admissions process In letter, President Bacow defends processes, says University doesn’t discriminate last_img read more

first_img Published on February 1, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Michael: [email protected] | @Michael_Cohen13 Greg Adkins and Scott Shafer already had their feet in the door. On Sept. 18, they kicked the door wide open.With Syracuse’s acceptance into the Atlantic Coast Conference, the narrow inroads made by two of the Orange’s principle recruiters significantly widened. The ability of potential recruits to play in front of family and friends for ACC conference games only strengthened their pitch.‘Oh, yeah, I loved that idea,’ said James Washington, who signed an official letter of intent Wednesday to become part of SU’s 2012 class.Washington was one of five members in the 22-player class from southern states, due in part to the Orange’s impending move to the ACC. Syracuse inked three players from Georgia, where Adkins previously coached, and two from Florida, where Shafer has begun to dip his toes into the talent pool of late. Of those five, only one said the change of conference played no part in his decision to sign with SU.‘A move from a conference, obviously, that can open up some things for you,’ Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone said during his press conference Wednesday. ‘Parents want to make sure they see their son play in just about every game, so that becomes a factor in some instances when you go into recruiting.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWashington, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound linebacker from Winter Park, Fla., said signing his letter of intent felt even better than he imagined. And the idea of playing in the ACC only made it sweeter.He believed the move to the ACC was likely a big draw for the other recruits Syracuse signed from Georgia and Florida as well.Josh Manley, a defensive end, and George Morris, a running back, both hail from Georgia. And Washington was joined by defensive back Julian Whigham from Florida.Washington’s thoughts on the ACC as a recruiting tool were echoed by John Garcia Jr., a publisher and recruiting analyst for Scout.com.‘A number of those guys have said that the ACC was, if not the No. 1 thing that lured them to Syracuse, it was close. It was up there,’ Garcia said. ‘… You talk about Adkins, that’s a nationally known recruiter from his days in the SEC, so there is your Georgia influence with guys like Josh Parris and George Morris as well.’Garcia feels Morris is likely the third-best prospect in SU’s class behind four-star standouts Ron Thompson, a tight end, and Wayne Morgan, a defensive back.Joining Morgan in the ranks of the SU secondary is Whigham, who was a standout safety at the powerhouse Dwyer High School in Florida. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound Whigham is slightly undersized, but he had 10 interceptions during the 2011 season for Dwyer.Garcia said prior to the surprise signing of Morgan, Whigham was told he would be working at cornerback. But now that could be changing.Whigham’s mother, Wanda, said her son was already interested in Syracuse before the news that SU would be switching conferences. And when the move was finalized, it only made the deal better.‘Actually, I think he had an interest long before they made that change, but it’s definitely an exciting change for him,’ Wanda Whigham said.With the news coming suddenly only a few weeks into the semester, it provided a bit of a challenge for Marrone and his recruiting staff. Pitches had to be revised, targets re-evaluated and a strategy developed for the new pool of potential athletes.But in just a few short hours after the signing period began, Syracuse had put together arguably one of its best recruiting classes in Marrone’s tenure. And nearly one-fourth of that group came from the heart of ACC territory.‘We’re starting to see the benefits of our ability to have been down there since we’ve been here,’ Marrone said. ‘But now we’re in there a little bit harder, and we have a little bit more to sell at the end of the day. We have to sell the ACC, and that’s helped us quite a bit with those players.’[email protected]  Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Commentslast_img read more

first_imgLocked in a three-way tie atop the Pac-12 standings with Stanford and Colorado, No. 5 USC women’s soccer hosted Washington at McAlister Field on Sunday in search of another vital victory and came out with a 1-0 shutout win over the Huskies.The Women of Troy began Sunday level with the Cardinal and Buffaloes at 18 points apiece (all teams were 6-1-0), and they pulled ahead with three points on Sunday. Redshirt junior forward Alex Anthony’s strike made the difference for USC in the team’s home finale.Washington was sitting in the conference cellar and had lost eight of its last nine coming into Sunday’s game, and the Women of Troy tried to twist the knife with an aggressive start. Despite a great deal of pressure, however, USC was caught offside several times in the opening minutes, scuttling its offensive momentum.“[Washington] played much higher than many of the other teams we’ve played so far,” head coach Keidane McAlpine said, crediting the Huskies’ offside trap. “But the quality and timing of our final pass wasn’t good. We had opportunities … that we just missed.”The Women of Troy appeared to be the more threatening side early in the first half, stringing together passes and spending significant minutes inside the attacking third, but it was Washington that came up with the first shot on target. A long-range effort forced a smart save out of redshirt senior goalkeeper Sammy Jo Prudhomme in the 17th minute, and the Huskies were ruled offside when the ball wound up in the net on the subsequent corner kick.The game opened up from that point, with an emboldened Washington team challenging the heavy favorites. USC continued to move the ball effectively up the pitch, but no one was able to execute the key pass to fashion a clear-cut scoring opportunity. Prudhomme’s save was one of  two she made in the entire first half, and the Women of Troy had yet to test Kaylyn Smith in the Huskies’ goal when the first 45 minutes ended 0-0.Anthony admitted the team was pressing a little too hard, which made passing a little wayward.“It was on us — our concentration and our focus from trying to get that final pass in,” she said.As the team has done so often this season, however, USC came flying out of the gates to start the second half and seized a 1-0 lead. Sophomore Leah Pruitt cut inside on the right flank, hugging the end line, and played in a short pass to Anthony, who was set up at the goalmouth. The redshirt junior rolled her defender at point-blank range and calmly fired home to break the deadlock in the 49th minute.Though Anthony said she was disappointed that the team was only able to beat the goalkeeper once, McAlpine was happy with his squad’s offensive effort.“That’s a quality forward talking,” he said of Anthony’s comments. “No — I think they made it tough. They made the spaces to play in very difficult, so it was really important to find seams.”USC looked like it was finally settling in after pushing in front, but the Huskies found some momentum in the closing stages. Washington laid siege to the Trojan net for the final 10 minutes of the game, pumping multiple free kicks into the box, but Prudhomme and company held firm to seal a nerve-wracking win when time ran out on the comeback.“We haven’t had a game like that in a while, where we needed to kill it at the end,” Anthony said. “So it was a good reminder of how to slow down and finish out the game when we only have a 1-0 lead. It was a good test for us, and I thought we handled it well.”Heading into the final three games of the regular season, USC will have few complaints about a victory, and McAlpine was confident in the team’s play as the postseason looms.“The title race is tough at the top: The top six are very tight,” he said. “Today was very, very important, and I feel good about the direction we’re going in.”The Women of Troy hit the road next, traveling to Salt Lake City to take on Utah this Thursday before facing Colorado in Boulder over the weekend. USC then wraps up its regular season with a tilt against archrivals UCLA at the StubHub Center on Nov. 4.last_img read more

first_imgMayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the powerful Los Angeles Unified teachers union have spent close to $1.9 million in the past month battling for control of the district’s board, according to campaign finance reports filed Friday. In the mayor’s campaign to replace two union-backed incumbents with his allies in next month’s election, Villaraigosa’s Partnership for Better Schools contributed about $975,000 since late January, filings show. In the same period, United Teachers Los Angeles kept pace by spending $900,000 to support its two candidates, incumbents Jon Lauritzen and Marguerite LaMotte. The hefty contributions have set the stage for a crushing final days before the March 6 election. Both sides are expected to pull out all the stops and pour even more funds into the matchups as Villaraigosa seeks district influence while his legislative effort to take partial control languishes in court. And his committee still has $900,000 in cash on hand to spend on the three candidates the mayor supports – Tamar Galatzan, Yolie Flores Aguilar and Richard Vladovic – with last-minute television ads, mailers and automated phone calls. “Who’s going to have control of the school board is at stake here,” said Raphael Sonenshein, political science professor at California State University, Fullerton. If Villaraigosa wins either the San Fernando Valley seat or the South Los Angeles seat, it is widely believed he will have majority sway on the board. Still, because of his close ties to the union, the battle for board seats is likely to be restrained. “This is a three-sided battle – the union has ties to the school board and to the mayor,” Sonenshein said. “In light of that, the union doesn’t have an interest in getting mortally at war with either one.” While contributions for candidates backed by the mayor and the union generally mirrored expectations, candidate Johnathan Williams showed surprisingly deep pockets. Williams, who is not backed by either the mayor or the union, collected $590,500 from individuals and groups nationwide who support public-school reform. Contribution flow Among the contributions to him was $100,000 from Reed Hastings, chief executive of Netflix; $25,000 from William Cronk III, former president of Dreyer’s Ice Cream; $15,000 from billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad; $50,000 from Gregory B. Penner, who served as a senior vice president of Wal-Mart; and $80,000 from former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan. Williams, a leader in the charter-school community, started the first independent charter school in Los Angeles, Accelerated Charter School. In 2001, it was named the best elementary school in the nation by Time magazine. The implications of the type of financial support Williams has garnered nationally are noteworthy, Sonenshein said. “I think the charter-school movement has always been a metaphor for the reform of the public-school system,” he said. “But that’s become a piece of the reform movement, more so than before.” Williams’ success in fundraising reflects a greater issue at stake in the race, he said. “It’s going to be a referendum on change at the school district,” Sonenshein said. “They’ll be very aggressive, but underlying it all is a legitimate political debate – it doesn’t have as much to do with personalities than the issue of governing schools.” Campaign finance disclosures also revealed in one of the most hotly contested races – Lauritzen’s Valley seat – that challenger Galatzan received about $877,500 in the Jan. 21-Feb. 23 period. Lauritzen took in $485,450. About $780,000 of Galatzan’s in-kind and cash contributions came from the mayor’s Partnership for Better Schools. Meanwhile, $450,000 of Lauritzen’s funds came from the UTLA. But while Galatzan spent about $611,000 – the bulk of it on television or cable airtime – Lauritzen spent about $195,000, mostly on campaign literature. Another candidate for board seat 3, Louis Pugliese, received $6,880. Campaign filings In the second-most-heated race, District 1 incumbent La- Motte – another union-backed candidate – received $524,100, $450,000 from the UTLA. The third candidate, Gloria Zuurveen, received $1,004. In South Gate’s District 7, Vladovic, who has been endorsed by the mayor, received about $142,250 – helped by a $10,000 contribution from Riordan and $100,000 from the mayor’s committee. Candidate Neal Kleiner received $10,475. Villaraigosa-backed Flores Aguilar, who’s running for the District 5 seat being vacated by David Tokofsky, received $185,000 in contributions in the period, $95,000 from the mayor’s committee. Challenger Bennett Kayser raised $21,453. The filings showed the mayor’s committee has spent about $1 million in cash and in-kind contributions so far on its campaigns and has about $900,000 in cash on hand to spend in the final week before the March 6 election. Campaign finance documents also showed that Villaraigosa’s committee has received about $1.6 million in contributions from entertainment executives, attorneys and developers. Filings show contributions of $500,000 from Jerry Perenchio, owner of Chartwell Partners; $100,000 from the Service Employees International Union, currently at odds with the UTLA; and $25,000 from the Anschutz Entertainment Group, which is behind Staples Center and the downtown l.a.live development. Another $25,000 was contributed by investor Gary Winnick, and Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive of DreamWorks SKG, also gave $25,000. [email protected] (818) 713-3722160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! 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