Friday, 16 November, 2018

Student group accuses Harvard of discrimination against Asian-Americans

Harvard sued for 'racial balancing' Harvard accused of racism against Asian applicants
Deanna Wagner | 18 June, 2018, 14:53

The prestigious Harvard University in the United States racially discriminated against Asian-American students by rating them lower than other applicants on traits such as "positive personality", according to a lawsuit against the Ivy League school.

They claimed if Harvard admitted students only on basis of academics, Asian-Americans would constitute 50% of the student population.

Which brings us back to the assumption that Asian-Americans face a penalty in admissions when it comes to test scores.

It marked a step forward in a lawsuit that has lasted almost four years and has drawn the attention of the U.S. Education Department, which is also looking into Harvard's use of race in admissions.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Harvard in its own brief on Friday denied discriminating against Asian-Americans.

Further, Asian-Americans are more likely to attend an elite private four-year institution than any other racial group.

After Republican President Donald Trump took office past year, the Justice Department began investigating whether Harvard's policies are discriminatory because they limit the acceptance of Asian-Americans.

The group, headed by prominent anti-affirmative action activist Edward Blum, said evidence showed that Harvard had allowed race to become a dominant consideration in considering applicants rather than just a legally allowed "plus" factor. The university called the suit part of an "ideological" campaign to upend settled law on race in college admissions. She said the plaintiff "will seek to paint an unfamiliar and inaccurate image" of Harvard admissions.

Harvard blasted the study in an opposing court filing and submitted a countering study that found no evidence of bias.

In 2015, Indian-American Vijay Chokal-Ingam, brother of actress Mindy Kaling, went public with his story of posing as a black man to benefit from race-conscious admissions policies at medical schools.

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The case sheds light on the usually hidden mechanics of a process of intense interest to college-bound students and families.

A common refrain among Asian-American students who believe that they have faced unfair treatment in the admission process echoes Vijay Chokal-Ingam's: If only I were black, I would get into the school of my dreams.

In the recent admission process, 1,962 applicants were offered admission to the Class of 2022, who made up less than 5 percent of 42,749 students who applied to the university, according to the Washington Post.

Harvard's website says 22.% of students admitted are Asian American whilst 14.6% are African American, 11.6% are Hispanic or Latino and 2.5% are Native American or Pacific Islanders. Twelve percent were global students.

The Trump administration previous year signaled its support for the challengers and is conducting its own administrative review of Harvard admissions. Identifying information was stripped from the files and database.

The findings of the Harvard researchers are confirmed by Duke University Professor Peter Arcidiacono, an expert witness for the plaintiffs.

"An Asian-American applicant with 25% chance of admission, for example, would have a 35% chance if he were white, 75% if he were Hispanic, and 95% chance if he were African-American", said the SFFA.

Harvard hired an economist from the University of California at Berkeley, David Card, to review the data. Yet Asian-American representation fell significantly short of that mark.

In an applicant pool brimming with stellar grades and test scores, Card said, "having strong academic credentials is not sufficient". If a ruling is not issued, the trial is scheduled to begin in October. Separately, the Justice Department is investigating Harvard's use of race in admissions.