Students dream of the hallowed halls of the Ivy League, but they may be unaware of the problematic system of admittance. For instance, Harvard has had a lawsuit brought up against them for discriminating against Asian Americans. This suit calls into question the already controversial topic of affirmative action.
Affirmative action is a policy of favoring members of the society of a disadvantaged group who currently or historically suffered from discrimination within a culture. Although Harvard does implement affirmative action when considering African Americans, and Hispanic Americans, it was indicated in an internal study by Harvard University that Asian American applicants would make up 43 percent of the admitted class under a hypothetical “academic only” model. In reality, Asian Americans only consist of 19 percent.
Edward Blum, president of Students Fair Admissions believes that Harvard has emphasized race and ethnicity as a determining factor, as opposed to an additional benefit. Similarly, Blum supported a case against the University of Texas, which was brought to the Supreme Court in 2016. However, the Supreme Court voided an appellate courts ruling on the basis of earlier Supreme Court decisions, such as Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003, and Regents of the University of California v. Bakke in 1996. Both of these decisions upheld affirmative action, which makes the case against Harvard much stronger.
Not only is the judicial branch of the U.S. government favoring Asian Americans, but the executive branch is as well. President Trump emphasized his interest in this suit and showed his support for upholding affirmative action.
On the other hand, Harvard insists that an application isn’t only based on academics, but also essays, and extra-curriculars. Due to the fact that the applicant pool is overflowing with amazing grades and perfect test scores, academic credentials are not sufficient when determining acceptance.
However, Asian Americans have a lower chance of receiving an acceptance letter than Hispanic, White, and African American applicants with a similar profile. More specifically, Asian Americans rank the lowest for “personality qualities.”
Not only is Harvard using lack of personality qualities as a defense, but they also are claiming that the internal research was only in a preliminary draft stage. Harvard’s legal team wants this case to be dismissed because the research is misrepresented. On Aug. 28, Harvard pleaded to avoid trial in the affirmative action case. Even if the judge rules in Harvard’s favor, the stain of their pristine reputation will remain.
Harvard students, including Asian Americans, are defending their school’s honor. Claiming that their race-conscious admissions program does not discriminate against Asian Americans, however, progress can still be made.
In response to this lawsuit pending against Harvard, many other universities, such as the University of Chicago have implemented policies to ensure that they will no longer be vulnerable to litigation. More specifically, schools have published Declarations of Diversity to prove that they admit students of color. Many of these institutions like Harvard pride themselves as being melting pots of cultures and ideas.
However, racial identity should not be considered when applying to college. When admissions counselors know the race or ethnicity of an applicant, they will be inherently biased. Therefore, the questions regarding race should be removed from college applications to ensure that all applicants have a fair chance of getting into their reach schools.
James Cook // Sports Editor
Aliya Leary // Co-Business Manager