A lawsuit has accused Harvard University of discriminating against Asian American applicants by rating them lower than others on traits like positive personality, likeability, courage, kindness, and being widely respected — thus lowering their chances of admission despite having done better than applicants from other racial/ethnic groups on test scores, grades, or extracurriculars.
Harvard’s own internal review in 2013 showed that the proportion of Asian American students would rise from the actual 19 percent to 43 percent, if academic achievement was the only factor.
After considering preferences for athletes and legacy applicants, the proportion of Asian Americans admitted fell to 31 percent. When extracurricular activities and personal ratings were considered, the percentage of Asian Americans dropped to 26 percent. When a category called “demographic” was applied, the percentage of Asian Americans fell to roughly 18 percent.
“It turns out that the suspicions of Asian American alumni, students, and applicants were right all along,” Students for Fair Admissions said. “Harvard today engages in the same kind of discrimination and stereotyping that it used to justify quotas on Jewish applicants in the 1920s and 1930s.”
Edward Blum, a legal strategist who founded Students for Fair Admissions, said his group’s filing “exposes the startling magnitude of Harvard’s discrimination.”
Harvard has objected to the group’s use of the 2013 internal study, which was uncovered during discovery. In a statement, the school called the lawsuit an attack on its ability to consider race in admissions, which it says is necessary to gather a racially diverse mix of students.
Asian American Coalition for Education (AACE) said it vehemently denounces Harvard for its systematic and blatant stereotypes and higher admission standards to unduly harm Asian American applicants.
“Its proven discriminatory practices and refusal to change constitute a modern-day “Chinese Exclusion Act,” AACE said in a statement. “These unlawful acts are often committed under the politically correct name of diversity, undertaken by reputable institutions like Harvard, simply because Asian Americans are not politically powerful and rarely vocal about the injustices they endure.”
AACE also notes that many elite U.S. colleges apply the admission model similar to Harvard’s and unlawfully discriminate against Asian American students. It is illegal and immoral. And it must stop.