Complaint: Harvard discriminates against Asian-American applicants

  • The complaint comes from 64 organizations.
  • The groups allege that Harvard raises the bar for Asian-American applicants.

A group of 64 organizations has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights alleging that Harvard University discriminates against Asian-American applicants.

This complaint follows a lawsuit that was filed in federal district court in November 2014 by Students for Fair Admissions Inc. making similar accusations.

The complaint says that the university sets the bar higher for the admission of Asian-American applicants than for other groups. According to the complaint, Harvard has set racial quotas to control the number of Asian-American students on campus and keep the demographic considerably lower than the quality of their applications merits.

The complaint cites third-party academic research on the SAT exam from the 2011 book No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal, which shows that on the 2,400 point exam, Asian-American applicants have to score an average of 140 points higher than white students, 270 points higher than Hispanic students, and 450 points higher than African-American students in order to have the same chance of gaining admission to the university.

The group is made up of nonprofit organizations that include Korean-, Chinese-, Pakistani-, and Indian-American groups across the United States. They are seeking a federal investigation and are requesting that Harvard “immediately cease and desist from using stereotypes, racial biases and other discriminatory means in evaluating Asian-American applicants.”

The US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights previously investigated similar allegations made against Harvard and found the university’s admissions policies to be lawful.

Harvard said it accepted 5.3% of applicants who applied for the Class of 2019. Out of 1,990 admitted students, 21% identified as Asian-American, 13.3% as Latino, and 12.1% as African-American. In the past decade, the population of Asian-American students at Harvard has grown 3.4%, from 17.6% to 21%.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @allie_piper

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