Harvard Does Not Discriminate Against Asian Americans, Judge Rules

October 1, 2019 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Boston ruled Tuesday that while “not perfect” Harvard University’s admissions process does not discriminate against Asian Americans.

U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs’ ruling comes in a 2014 lawsuit filed by the group Students for Fair Admissions, which accused the Ivy League school of bias against Asian-American applicants, saying it holds them to a higher standard than students of other races.

The plaintiffs claimed the alleged policy amounted to an “Asian penalty,” while black and Hispanic students were more readily admitted, even with poorer grades.

At the heart of the dispute was an internal report prepared at Harvard in 2013 that looked at the role race played in the university’s admissions. It found that if the school weighed applicants based on academics alone, 43% of the admitted class would be Asian American, while in reality, it was 19%.

Harvard denied any discrimination and said it considers race only as one of many factors when considering applicants.

The lawsuit has been closely watched ever since as the outcome has implications for scores of other U.S. colleges that say they consider race to admit a diverse mix of students.

Judge Burroughs said she found “no evidence of any racial animus whatsoever” in Harvard’s admissions policy.

The group has also sued the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, over alleged discrimination against Asian American applicants. That suit, also filed in 2014, is ongoing.

The group has already said it will appeal Burroughs’ decision.

“Students for Fair Admissions is disappointed that the court has upheld Harvard’s discriminatory admissions policies,” Edward Blum, the group’s president, said in a statement. “We believe that the documents, emails, data analysis and depositions SFFA presented at trial compellingly revealed Harvard’s systematic discrimination against Asian-American applicants.”

Harvard did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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