Pre­sid­ing judge weighs bias case against Har­vard

San Francisco Chronicle (Sunday) - - NATION - By Collin Bink­ley Collin Bink­ley is an As­so­ci­ated Press writer.

BOS­TON — A trial al­leg­ing racial bias in Har­vard Univer­sity’s ad­mis­sions sys­tem has pre­sented two starkly dif­fer­ent images of the Ivy League school.

One side de­picts a Har­vard that plays racial fa­vorites, low­er­ing the ad­mis­sion bar for cer­tain races and rais­ing it for oth­ers, to the detri­ment of Asian Amer­i­cans. The other side paints a Har­vard that gives a slight edge to some mi­nori­ties in the pur­suit of di­ver­sity, but only those who would likely be ad­mit­ted any­way.

Now it’s up to a judge to de­cide which is closer to the truth. Both sides clashed Fri­day dur­ing clos­ing ar­gu­ments of a trial that has been four years in the mak­ing and sits at the cen­ter of a reignited de­bate over af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion. Its out­come car­ries weighty im­pli­ca­tions for other col­leges that also con­sider race when se­lect­ing stu­dents.

The group be­hind the suit, Stu­dents for Fair Ad­mis­sions, says Har­vard’s gate­keep­ers hold Asian Amer­i­can ap­pli­cants to a higher stan­dard and dis­crim­i­nate against them us­ing a sub­jec­tive “per­sonal rat­ing” that mea­sures traits such as courage and lik­a­bil­ity.

Us­ing six years of school ad­mis­sions data, the group found that Har­vard of­fi­cials con­sis­tently gave Asian Amer­i­cans the low­est scores in the per­sonal rat­ing, while scor­ing black and Latino stu­dents the high­est. Asians fared well in other cat­e­gories in­clud­ing aca­demics, yet they were ad­mit­ted at the low­est rate.

Har­vard in­sists that the group’s sta­tis­ti­cal anal­y­sis, done by a Duke Univer­sity econ­o­mist, is flawed, and pre­sented a du­el­ing anal­y­sis from a UC Berke­ley econ­o­mist who found no ev­i­dence of bias. The school’s lawyers em­pha­sized that race is only one of many fac­tors con­sid­ered.

Charles Krupa / As­so­ci­ated Press 2017

A civil law­suit against Har­vard Univer­sity ac­cuses it of play­ing racial fa­vorites, low­er­ing the ad­mis­sion bar for cer­tain races and rais­ing it for oth­ers, to the detri­ment of Asian Amer­i­cans.

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