Parents and students have grown increasingly concerned about prejudiced actions surrounding the American university system in recent years. One school in particular – Harvard University – now faces allegations of rejecting applications from academically proficient Asian Americans, despite their academic success.
An ongoing lawsuit from Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) against Harvard continues, with documents purporting that the school discriminates against Asian American pupils. As reported by the Harvard Crimson campus newspaper, the college claims that SFFA has insufficient evidence and is only interested in ending affirmative action due to their ideological agenda.
Previously confidential details from the university’s Office of Institutional Research (OIR) in 2013 were recently released to the court. In the files, OIR stated that Asian applicants with high academic achievement consistently scored lower on “personal” ratings from admissions officers compared to candidates of other races, as also noted by the Crimson.
Asians were found to be the only demographic group to have a disadvantage at the college when compared to those with similar qualifications. Campus officials contend that they do not engage in bias against any ethnicity and that SFFA has not acquired proof to the contrary.
Weighing the Evidence
The court files were finally released after a lengthy battle over privacy rights. The Justice Department requested public access to admissions data, but the college argued that the details should be kept confidential. The fight continued as the department called for transparency, which should be at the forefront of the Ivy League campus, especially since it received $618 million in federal funding in 2017.
Within the last decade, the percentage of Asian Americans at Harvard has increased by 29%, and the group comprises 22.2% of the university’s student body, which is more than any other ethnic minorities at the school. However, some employees from OIR stated that the released documents displayed potential racial bias and that cultural factors must be taken into consideration when evaluating “personal” ratings.
Harvard lawyers dispute that the papers did not cite legitimate explanations for potentially low entrance rates of Asians compared to those with similar qualifications. Furthermore, the Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, William R. Fitzsimmons, explained that the OIR investigation was only preliminary and lacked vital data from the admission process.
The findings are not yet open to the public, and a trial is scheduled for January 2019, to look further into the matter. Harvard officials assert that they are ready for the suit, as there is insufficient evidence that discrimination has occurred.
The evidence is thus far inconclusive, but with many questions currently surrounding the legitimacy of the American university system, we’re looking forward to detailed findings.
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