Gov­ern­ment ac­cuses Har­vard of em­ploy­ing ‘out­right racial bal­anc­ing’

Ripon Bulletin - - Nation -

WASHINGTON (AP) — In its lat­est push to end the use of race in col­lege ad­mis­sions, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion on Thurs­day ac­cused Har­vard Univer­sity of “en­gag­ing in out­right racial bal­anc­ing” and sided with Asian-Amer­i­can stu­dents who al­lege the Ivy League school dis­crim­i­nated against them.

Har­vard de­nied the bias claim and said it would de­fend the right to con­sider race as a fac­tor in ad­mis­sions.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment weighed in on a law­suit filed in 2014 by Stu­dents For Fair Ad­mis­sion, which ar­gues that one of the world’s most pres­ti­gious uni­ver­si­ties dis­crim­i­nates against aca­dem­i­cally strong Asian-Amer­i­can ap­pli­cants in fa­vor of oth­ers who may be less qual­i­fied.

The agency said in a “state­ment of in­ter­est” that Har­vard has failed to demon­strate that it does not dis­crim­i­nate on the ba­sis of race and that its use of per­sonal qual­i­ties in de­ter­min­ing wor­thy ap­pli­cants “may be in­fected with racial bias.”

The Supreme Court per­mits col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties to con­sider race in ad­mis­sions de­ci­sions, but says that must be done in a nar­rowly tai­lored way to pro­mote di­ver­sity and should be limited in time. Schools also bear the bur­den of show­ing why their con­sid­er­a­tion of race is ap­pro­pri­ate.

In Har­vard’s case, Jus­tice Depart­ment of­fi­cials said, the univer­sity hasn’t ex­plained how it uses race in ad­mis­sions and has not adopted mean­ing­ful cri­te­ria to limit the use of race.

“No Amer­i­can should be de­nied ad­mis­sion to school be­cause of their race,” At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions said.

Ses­sions said Har­vard’s use of a “per­sonal rat­ing,” which in­cludes highly sub­jec­tive fac­tors such as be­ing a “good per­son” or “lik­a­bil­ity,” may be bi­ased against Asian-Amer­i­cans. Ses­sions said the school ad­mits that it scores AsianAmer­i­can ap­pli­cants lower on per­sonal rat­ing than other stu­dents. Ses­sions also ar­gued that Har­vard ad­mis­sions of­fi­cers mon­i­tor and ma­nip­u­late the racial makeup of in­com­ing classes.

Har­vard said it was dis­ap­pointed the depart­ment was “re­cy­cling the same mis­lead­ing and hol­low ar­gu­ments that prove noth­ing more than the empti­ness of the case against Har­vard.”

“Har­vard does not dis­crim­i­nate against ap­pli­cants from any group, and will con­tinue to vig­or­ously de­fend the le­gal right of ev­ery col­lege and univer­sity to con­sider race as one fac­tor among many in col­lege ad­mis­sions, which the Supreme Court has con­sis­tently up­held for more than 40 years,” the univer­sity said in a state­ment. “Col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties must have the free­dom and flex­i­bil­ity to cre­ate the di­verse com­mu­ni­ties that are vi­tal to the learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of ev­ery stu­dent.”

Ed­ward Blum, pres­i­dent of the group that sued Har­vard, hailed the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ac­tion. “We look for­ward to hav­ing the gravely trou­bling ev­i­dence that Har­vard con­tin­ues to keep redacted dis­closed to the Amer­i­can pub­lic in the near fu­ture,” he said.

The depart­ment’s court fil­ing op­poses Har­vard’s re­quest to dis­miss the suit be­fore trial.

“Har­vard’s fail­ure to pro­vide mean­ing­ful cri­te­ria to cabin its vol­un­tary use of race, its use of a per­sonal rat­ing that sig­nif­i­cantly harms AsianAmer­i­can ap­pli­cants’ chances of ad­mis­sion and may be in­fected with racial bias, and the sub­stan­tial ev­i­dence that Har­vard is en­gag­ing in out­right racial bal­anc­ing each war­rant de­nial” of Har­vard’s re­quest, the depart­ment said.

The depart­ment is sep­a­rately in­ves­ti­gat­ing Har­vard’s ad­mis­sions poli­cies.

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