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Building a class

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the fall regarding two cases concerning affirmative action at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

The legal challenge to Harvard and North Carolina, over their affirmative action policies (“Firms back affirmative action in Harvard case,” Business, Aug. 2) is fundamentally flawed. Universities do admit individual students, and if that were the sole duty of directors of admission, Students for Fair Admissions might have a case to make. But as the late Fred Hargadon, the great admissions magician of Princeton, would have explained, individuals are admitted in order to build a class. A good class is the overall object: cohesive, diverse, with the potential to produce loyal alumni who will continue to support the university for a lifetime after graduation. Any particular qualifications of an individual applicant are secondary considerations to the primary one — how will the applicant contribute to that year’s class. Viewed in this light, the arguments of the plaintiffs appear selfish and inimical to the interests of the universities and should be dismissed.

Marvin Swartz


Center Conway, NH