friday, 31 august of 2018


DOJ lends support to students suing Harvard over racially discriminatory admission policies

The US Department on Justice (DOJ) on Thursday filed a statement of interest  supporting the plaintiffs who are suing Harvard University over alleged racial discrimination against Asian-American students in the admissions process.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in the press release:

No American should be denied admission to school because of their race. As a recipient of taxpayer dollars, Harvard has a responsibility to conduct its admissions policy without racial discrimination by using meaningful admissions criteria that meet lawful requirements. The Department of Justice has the responsibility to protect the civil rights of the American people. This case is significant because the admissions policies at our colleges and universities are important and must be conducted lawfully.

The press release further notes that “Harvard admits to using race in its admissions process” but “has failed to provide any meaningful criteria to explain how it weighs race against other factors in a candidate’s application (e.g., test scores and extracurricular activities).” The DOJ claims that Harvard fails to meet Supreme Court precedent, which requires universities to reveal where in the selection racial diversity is considered and to what extent.

In addition, the DOJ takes issue with Harvard’s use of a “personal rating” criteria, which is seen as a way of discriminating against Asian-Americans over low “likability” and “human qualities” scores. Harvard admits that the average Asian-American applicants have scored lower on these “personal ratings” than applicants of other races.

Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union have filed amicus briefs on Harvard’s behalf in response to the DOJ’s interest in Harvard’s admission process. The ACLU stated in their brief, “The mere consideration of race in order to achieve a diverse student body does not conflict with the principles of equal protection, so long as it is narrowly tailored, as the Supreme Court’s affirmative action cases demonstrate.”

(Published by Jurist, August 30, 2018)

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