Posted on August 1, 2023

Columbia Law School Said It Would Require Applicants to Submit ‘Video Statements’ in Wake of Affirmative Action Ban

Aaron Sibarium, Washington Free Beacon, August 1, 2023

Columbia Law School said on its website that it would require all applicants to submit a 90-second “video statement” in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ban on race-based college admissions.

“All applicants will be required to submit a short video, no longer than 90 seconds, addressing a question chosen at random,” the school’s admissions page said Monday morning. “The video statement will allow applicants to provide the Admissions Committee with additional insight into their personal strengths.”

Critics slammed the move as a thinly veiled attempt to defy the Supreme Court’s ruling and practice affirmative action by other means, using appearance as a proxy for race. Columbia’s decision “has all the hallmarks of a willful effort to evade the requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act,” said Edward Blum, the founder of Students for Fair Admissions, the plaintiffs in the June case that outlawed affirmative action. “What is a 90-second video supposed to legitimately convey that a written statement could not?”

Reached for comment by the Washington Free Beacon, however, a spokesman for the law school said it had all been a misunderstanding and, by 6:00 PM Monday evening, Columbia had scrubbed the language from its website.

“Video statements will not be required as part of the Fall 2024 J.D. application when it becomes available in September,” the law school told the Free Beacon in a statement. {snip}

The law school required video statements from transfer applicants for the first time in May, part of a pilot program that Columbia said has now concluded. The language broadening that requirement to all applicants did not appear on the school’s website until after the Supreme Court’s ruling in late June, according to archived webpages reviewed by the Free Beacon.


The reversal came after Columbia’s law journals delayed masthead acceptances in the wake of the affirmative action ban, saying they had an “obligation” to ensure their selection process was “consistent with the law.” While some law schools, including Harvard and Cornell, conducted optional interviews before the Supreme Court’s decision, none have implemented anything quite like Columbia’s short-lived requirement.