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Defending Diversity from Sherri Ann Charleston

Dear Members of the Harvard Community, 

On Monday, the Supreme Court decided to hear arguments in a lawsuit challenging nearly a half-century of consistent legal precedent affirming race-conscious admissions policies in American colleges and universities. Many members of our community are disheartened at this news, as am I. It was only a week ago that we were called to reflect on the legacy of Dr. King. In doing so, we invoked his words and will do so again: “The time is always right to do right.” Now is the time for courageous leadership.  

Today, I write to join President Bacow (his full statement can be found here) in reassuring you that our University has never been more committed to defending diversity, the soundness of our admissions processes, and the belief that diversity of all kinds—including race—provides educational benefits.   

I encourage you to get the facts and learn more about the Harvard admissions lawsuit. This site will be updated regularly with news, statements, and other information about the lawsuit. For those interested in learning more about how to support this effort, please be on the lookout for additional information. 

We know that diverse learning environments improve scholarship, interpersonal understanding, and provide a microcosm of global diversity here on campus. And we know that race is only one of many aspects of a person’s identity and experience, and it is only one of many factors considered in Harvard admissions. I am immensely proud of the work that has been done by Harvard College Admissions and across the University to help create the diverse work and learning environment that we now enjoy. Diversity is our pathway to excellence, and we will continue to protect the benefits we now enjoy. This will be the foundation for Harvard’s excellence for centuries to come.  

We remain confident, as were the two federal courts who heard the case already, that our practices are not discriminatory and are consistent with Supreme Court precedent. There is no evidence that warrants a different outcome. I encourage all of you to join us in the ongoing work of ensuring that Harvard is as diverse and inclusive a place as it can be. 

The months ahead will require leadership, a resolute commitment to our values and to each other. Although I am saddened that we must, once again, defend diversity, continue we must. The moral arc of the universe will bend, but only if we bend it. I look forward to continuing to build our beloved community—together.  

In community,

Sherri Ann Charleston
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer