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Harvard Conference to Present First Evidence of the Consequences of Ending Affirmative Action

Researchers associated with the Harvard Civil Rights Project will present the first examinations of the consequences of changing from racially-targeted to non-racial standards at a conference on April 11, 1997. In papers commissioned for the conference, researchers examined the consequences of using test scores for admission to the top 20 percent of the nation's colleges, the impact of California's new "color-blind" polices on university applications and enrollment, and the first year effects of the 1996 Hopwood v. Texas decision, which ended affirmative action. The conference will meet at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and is supported by grants from the Mellon and MacArthur Foundations.

The Harvard conference, "Non-Racial Standards and Minority Opportunity" is the first to examine effect of recent court decisions restricting affirmative action on higher education. In Hopwood, the appellate court held that schools could no longer use race or ethnicity as factors in admissions in Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. A U.S. court of appeals recently upheld California's Proposition 209, a statewide referendum which forbids special consideration for women or minority group members in jobs, government contracts, or university admission. In addition to the research findings, the conference will examine attempts to devise non-racial standards, and the legal framework of racially-targeted policies. It will be attended by university administrators who oversee admissions, academics, and student affairs, civil rights and legal experts, as well as researchers. Reporters who would like to attend should call either Ariadne Valsamis at (617) 496-1895 or Karen Case at (617) 495-3016.

The Harvard Civil Rights Project is a collaboration of researchers from the Harvard Law School, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and other organizations dedicated to exploring the link between law, research, and policy on civil rights. The Project is co-directed by Christopher Edley, Jr. Professor of Law, and Gary Orfield, Professor of Education and Social Policy.