Harvard denies allegations of discrimination

Students feel the school’s acceptance policy is biased. (Flickr)

By Mallory McBride
Staff Writer

After 15 days of proceedings, Harvard University’s trial regarding its supposed discrimination against Asian-Americans in its admission process came to a close on Nov. 2, according to The Harvard Gazette, the official news website of Harvard University.

The federal lawsuit, which can be traced back to 2014, started when Richard Blum, an opponent of race-conscious admissions and founder of Students for Fair Admissions, filed an initial lawsuit against the university, claiming that it is harder for Asian-American students to get accepted, The Harvard Gazette reported.

According to CNN, Blum sued Harvard under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which does not allow for intentional race discrimination at schools that receive federal funds.

CNN reported that Harvard’s annual applications amount to about 40,000, with the freshman class totaling about 1,600.

Through the years, the percentage of Asian-American students at Harvard has been rising, and its most recent class is 23 percent Asian-American, according to CNN.

Harvard has denied all claims of race discrimination, claiming that race is only one of the many factors that are considered during the application process, according to The Harvard Gazette.

However, according to NPR, the plaintiff’s attorneys referenced recruitment numbers and a Harvard program that sends recruitment letters to applicants based on standardized test scores as substantive evidence that the school has the bar set higher for Asian-American students.

Harvard’s policy suggests that Asian-American males need a score of a 1370 on the PSAT to get an acceptance letter, while white males only need a 1310.

According to CNN, Harvard’s Dean of Admissions William Fitzsimmons, who joined the office 46 years ago, took the stand for four days on the defense of Harvard’s admissions practices.

“‘We certainly do everything in our power to treat every applicant completely and fairly,’” Fitzsimmons said, according to CNN. He said that there are no quotas or limits for anyone of any race applying to the school.

According to The New York Times, the plaintiff’s main focus is to eliminate the use of race in the admissions process.

Throughout the trial, however, many students and alumni took to the stand to defend the university, race-conscious admissions, and affirmative action, according to NPR.

“I personally benefited from affirmative action,” Harvard senior Thang Diep said according to NPR. “It allowed my immigration history (from Vietnam) to be taken into account.”

While the trial has ended, it is not expected that U.S. District Court Judge Allison Burroughs will release her opinion until 2019, according to NPR. The case may end up in the Supreme Court if both sides appeal.

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