The Trump Administration in July withdrew Obama-era guidance that gave colleges a wink and a nod to racially discriminate. This means that colleges like Harvard that use racial preferences in admissions will receive more legal scrutiny, and the examination should be instructive.
Between 2011 and 2016, the Obama Education Department issued seven notices advising colleges how they may legally promote racial diversity. The 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits racial discrimination by institutions receiving federal funds. But the Supreme Court has held that colleges may consider race in admissions as long it isn’t the “decisive” factor. Quotas and point systems are forbidden.
The Obama department advised colleges to consider race as part of what it called an “individualized, holistic review of all applicants.” Colleges also were urged to consider race-neutral alternatives, but that they need not be adopted if they are “unworkable.” In other words, it’s the thought that counts. Many colleges took the guidance as cover to discriminate.
Harvard’s practices will be the first to be examined under this new spotlight. Students for Fair Admissions has sued the school for discriminating against Asian-American applicants and unconstitutionally favoring other minority groups. The case hasn’t gone to trial, but the plaintiff group’s legal filings based on discovery and depositions are revealing the secrets of Harvard’s use of race.
Consider Harvard’s “holistic” admissions review. Applicants are rated on a scale of one to six on academics, extracurricular activities, athletics and highly subjective “personal” criteria. Admissions officers also assign applicants an overall score.
According to Students for Fair Admissions, Asian-Americans boasted higher extracurricular and academic ratings than all other racial groups. They also received higher scores from alumni interviewers. But they were rated disproportionately lower on personal criteria. Only about one in five Asian-Americans in the top 10% of academic performers received a “2” personal rating. Yet blacks and Hispanics with much lower grades and SAT scores received high personal ratings.
To read the full story in the Wall Street Journal, click here.
To read the full article click here.
“A group that is suing Harvard University is demanding that it publicly release admissions data on hundreds of thousands of applicants, saying the records show a pattern of discrimination against Asian-Americans going back decades.
The group was able to view the documents through its lawsuit, which was filed in 2014 and challenges Harvard’s admissions policies. The plaintiffs said in a letter to the court last week that the documents were so compelling that there was no need for a trial, and that they would ask the judge to rule summarily in their favor based on the documents alone.”
What a year! Thanks to your energy and commitment, Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) is thriving. In the past year, we launched new lawsuits against the University of Texas at Austin and the Department of Education, vigorously litigated our landmark lawsuits against Harvard and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and continued our nationwide advocacy for the equal protection of individuals regardless of race or ethnicity.
I encourage you to read our Annual Report:
The Justice Department confirmed last week that it is examining claims of racial discrimination against Asian Americans in university admissions. It is possible that this will result in investigations and lawsuits targeting our nation’s most competitive schools.
This is a significant and welcome development. If the Justice Department follows through — as it should — what its lawyers will find at Harvard University and other Ivy League schools is an unfair and unconstitutional process that restricts the number of Asians admitted. That should alarm all Americans.
Read the full article here.
In 2015 a coalition of more than 60 Asian-American groups filed a complaint with the Justice Department Civil Rights Division that alleges admissions discrimination at Harvard University, and the details are striking. In 1993 about 20% of Harvard students were Asian-American, and that figure has barely budged over two decades, even as the Asian-American share of the U.S. population has grown rapidly. Harvard’s admitted class of 2021 is 22% Asian-American, according to data on the university’s website, and the numbers are roughly consistent at Princeton, Yale and other Ivy League schools.
Read the full article here.
By most standards, Austin Jia holds an enviable position. A rising sophomore at Duke, Mr. Jia attends one of the top universities in the country, setting him up for success.
But with his high G.P.A., nearly perfect SAT score and activities — debate team, tennis captain and state orchestra — Mr. Jia believes he should have had a fair shot at Harvard, Princeton, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania. Those Ivy League colleges rejected him after he applied in the fall of 2015.
Read the full article here.
Shortly after the Supreme Court’s dispiriting decision last year in Fisher v. University of Texas, which upheld the use of racial preferences in college admissions, Gallup released some encouraging poll results. More than 6 out of 10 white, black and Hispanic respondents said they disagreed with the ruling. And 7 in 10 people—including 76% of whites, 61% of Hispanics and 50% of blacks—said colleges should admit applicants based “solely on merit.”
Read full article here.
To read the press release about the complaint, please click here.
To read the complaint from Students for Fair Admissions, please click here.
June 30, 2015
As we approach the end of our first year, Students for Fair Admissions has much to celebrate. We initiated two landmark lawsuits against universities that discriminate against our members, challenged Ivy League schools’ attempts to destroy evidence of their admissions practices, and travelled the country advocating for the equal protection of students regardless of race or ethnicity. In short, we had a very successful first year.
Please take a moment to read the annual report outlining our progress here.
We appreciate your continued support and encourage you to ask likeminded friends to join Students for Fair Admissions and support our work.