On Thursday, the Department of Justice filed court documents that accuse Harvard University of illegal discrimination against Asian-Americans. Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) is the advocacy group that filed the suit against the university in 2014. SFFA states on its website that “racial classifications and preferences in college admissions are unfair, unnecessary, and unconstitutional.” In July, Trump administration scrapped Obama-era policies that encouraged universities to consider race in admissions.
The suit argues that Harvard discriminates against Asian-Americans in its acceptance process. SFFA alleges that a male Asian-American male with a 25 percent chance of entering the prestigious institution would have 35 percent chance if he were white. Furthermore, it argues that he would have a 95 percent change of admission if he were black, and a 75 percent chance in case he were Latino. The advocacy group claims that the university unfairly “rated down” Asian-American applicants for subjective reasons, even when they had better extra-curricular and academic records than other applicants.
SFFA was founded by Edward Blum -- a lawyer and conservative activist. “It’s alarming that Trump is aligning himself with anti-civil rights activist Edward Blum in this subversive attempt to say that civil rights protections cause discrimination,” said Jeannie Park, who leads Harvard’s Asian-American Alumni Alliance, according to the New York Times. She said that “Asian-Americans have long benefited from policies to increase equal opportunity and still do.” Park added, “Our fear is that Harvard’s admissions system is just the latest target in a larger fight to roll back protections for people of color in all fields, including government and business.”
In its filings on Thursday, the Department of Justice argued that “the record evidence demonstrates that Harvard’s race-based admissions process significantly disadvantages Asian-American applicants compared to applicants of other racial groups — including both white applicants and applicants from other racial minority groups.” It goes on to say, “The evidence, moreover, shows that Harvard provides no meaningful criteria to cabin its use of race; uses a vague ‘personal rating’ that harms Asian-American applicants’ chances for admission and may be infected with racial bias; engages in unlawful racial balancing; and has never seriously considered race-neutral alternatives in its more than 45 years of using race to made admissions decisions.”
“No American should be denied admission to school because of their race,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a statement. “As a recipient of taxpayer dollars, Harvard has a responsibility to conduct its admissions policy without racial discrimination by using meaningful admissions criteria that meet lawful requirements.”