Higher Education

Federal Judge Rules That Harvard Does Not Discriminate Against Asian-American Students

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In a closely-watched case, a federal judge ruled that Harvard University does not discriminate against Asian-Americans in its admissions decisions.

The case was filed by a far-right group hoping to outlaw affirmative action, which Harvard used to promote diversity in its student body.

The challenge came from a group hoping to overturn a longstanding Supreme Court precedent that allows race to be considered as one factor among many in the admissions process, but prohibits universities from using racial quotas. The group argued that Harvard’s practices had benefited black and Hispanic students at the expense of another minority group, in a strategic reversal of past affirmative action lawsuits in which the plaintiffs denounced a perceived unfairness to white students.

The judge, Allison Burroughs of Federal District Court for the District of Massachusetts, rejected the argument that Harvard was using affirmative action as a weapon against some races and a boon to others, and said that the university met the strict constitutional standard for considering race in its admissions process….

Students for Fair Admissions made four interrelated claims: that Harvard intentionally discriminated against Asian-Americans, that it used race as a predominant factor in admissions decisions, that it racially balanced its classes, and that it had considered applicants’ race without first exhausting race-neutral alternatives to create diversity.

Judge Burroughs cleared the university of all four claims, saying that while Harvard’s admissions process was “not perfect,” the court would not tear down “a very fine admissions program that passes constitutional muster.”

As I noted in an earlier post, the proportion of Asian-Americans at Harvard far exceeds their proportion of the population.

The U.S. population is about 6% Asian, African Americans are 13%, whites are 61%, Hispanics are 18%.

The Harvard class of 2021 is 22% Asian, 14.6% African American, 11.6% Latino, and 2.5% Native American or Pacific Islander.

On the face of the data, it is hard to make a case for discrimination.

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