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Home / International News / Harvard Admissions trial opens: University accused of biasness against Asian-Americans

Harvard Admissions trial opens: University accused of biasness against Asian-Americans

October 16, 2018:

Harvard University Admissions Trial
Harvard University Admissions Trial

On Monday at the start of a trial, a lawyer for a group suing the Harvard University said that the University discriminates against Asian-American applicants in order to limit how many it admits.

It could have wider implications for the role of race in US college admissions, the Lawyer added.

The trial in Federal Court in Boston dent the Ivy League School against Students for Fair Admissions, which was founded by an anti-affirmative action activist & whose case is backed by the Trump administration.

Legal Experts say that the case could eventually reach the US Supreme Court, giving the newly weld 5-member conservative majority a chance to bar the use of affirmative action to help minority applicants get into college.

In previous rulings on affirmative action, which aims to offset historic patterns of racial discrimination, the Supreme Court has allowed colleges to include race as one factor among others in assessing applicants.

In his opening statement, Adam Mortara, a lawyer for SFFA, accused Harvard of going further than the court has allowed by engaging in “racial balancing” & keeping Asian-American admissions in the years before SFFA sued in 2014 at or under 20% annually.

Mortara said while Asian-Americans outperformed other groups on academic measures, they received low scores on the “personal” rating that measures an applicant’s subjective likability & spirit.

He said,“There’s an Asian-American penalty, and it’s significant.”

William Lee, a lawyer for Harvard, countered that SFFA’s claims were based on heavily manipulated data & “invective accusations & innuendo.

Lee told US District Judge Allison Burroughs, who is presiding over the non-jury trial,“Harvard never considers an applicant’s race to be negative. If it considers race at all, it is always considered in a positive way.”

He said the Supreme Court had long supported Harvard‘s approach.

He has described it as an “illuminating example” in a landmark 1978 ruling that allowed race to be considered in college admissions in order to promote diversity.

He said,“We’re here because SFFA would like to change that law.”

Asian-Americans represent about 6% of the US population & comprises 23% of Harvard‘s current freshman class.

SFFA is headed by Edward Blum, an activist involved in other high-profile cases that have challenged the use of race in colleges admissions.

The US Justice Department, which launched a related probe of Harvard after Republican President Donald Trump took office last year, has backed SFFA’s case, saying Harvard has not seriously considered alternative, race-neutral approaches to admissions.

Jennifer Holmes, a lawyer with the NAACP Legal Defence Fund representing 25 Harvard student & alumni organisations who support Harvard‘s defence, told Burroughs that the university’s policies are helping it move beyond its past as a “bastion of the white, privileged and male.”

She added,“The remedy SFFA seeks would slash the number of minorities on campus and turn back the clock to a time when whites dominated the campus.”

Source: The Wire

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