Meet the Five Harvard Students Who Testified in the Admissions Trial

Undergraduates Speak Out In Court To Defend Race-Conscious Admissions
For most of the three-week-old Harvard admissions trial, the only voices ringing out in court have belonged to lawyers and administrators. Attorneys and officials have spent hours and hours debating the legality of the College’s race-conscious admissions process, fighting over graphs and charts that different statistical experts argue prove or disprove allegations that Harvard’s admissions process is discriminatory. But, for one whole day this past week, students took over Courtroom 17 in the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse. Eight current and former Harvard students - all of them non-white - stepped behind the witness stand Monday to make the case for race-conscious admissions policies. Each drew on their personal experiences, pointing to childhood bullying, fears over Harvard’s whiteness, and comfort found in campus affinity groups to assert that a race-blind admissions process would decrease Harvard’s diversity and fundamentally worsen the College experience. “Race-blind admissions is an act of erasure,” Sarah F. Cole ’16 said in court. “To not see my race is to not see me.” Thang Q. Diep ’19, who was born in Vietnam, testified that he would not be at Harvard now were it not for the school’s consideration of race in the admissions process. “I personally benefited from affirmative action,” Diep said. “It allows my immigration history to be taken into account, my own experiences taken into account.” In the trial, the University is battling charges that it unfairly rejects qualified Asian-American applicants in favor of less deserving Harvard hopefuls of other races. Anti-affirmative action advocacy group Students for Fair Admissions first raised these allegations in Nov. 2014 when it sued Harvard over its admissions procedures. The trial, set to conclude Friday, could wind up before the Supreme Court - and, if the majority-conservative court sides with SFFA, it could mean the end of affirmative action in the United States. The five undergraduates who testified Monday are Sally Chen ’19, Thang Q. Diep ’19, Catherine H. Ho ’21, Cecilia A. J. Nuñez ’20, and Madison A. Trice ’21. Here, The Crimson breaks down who they are and where they’re from - and what drove them to testify on behalf of their eventual alma mater.

Catherine H. Ho '21

Hometown: Louisville, Ky.

Concentration: Undeclared

Name: Sally Chen '19

Hometown: San Francisco, Calif.

Concentration: History and Literature & Women, Gender and Sexuality

Name: Thang Q. Diep '19

Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif.

Concentration: Neurobiology

Madison A. Trice '21

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Concentration: Undeclared

“I personally benefited from affirmative action. It allows my immigration history to be taken into account, my own experiences to be taken into account.”
- Thang Q. Diep '19

Cecilia A. J. Nuñez '20

Hometown: San Gabriel, Calif.

Concentration: History and Literature

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