Harvard Lawsuit

Ellie Glantz

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Currently, there is a case filed against Harvard University’s acceptance policies in regards to discrimination against Asian-American applicants. This case in particular is so widely debated because it will not only expose Harvard of its application processes, something deemed as extremely private, but also has the potential to put affirmative action on trial. Affirmative action- defined by dictionary.com is “an action or policy favoring those who tend to suffer from discrimination, especially in relation to employment or education; positive discrimination.” Affirmative action comes to play throughout this case because of the clear discrimination towards Asian Americans and from that stems the question either your race should.” By implementing affirmative action, colleges are required to accept a certain amount of applicants from each race to ensure a diverse campus and to essentially give lower-income students a boost. But in my opinion, shouldn’t be a factor that determines your income. If anything, it’s blatantly racist to claim each college must accept a certain amount of black people because with that comes the assumption that all black people come from lower income families than others. In addition, affirmative action results in students diverting from their own roots and beliefs and instead exaggerating or even lying about their heritage to present themselves as something diverse in order to appeal to colleges more.

The group that sued Harvard approximately 4 years ago is called the Anti Affirmative Action Advocacy group (students for fair admission). The lawsuit was filed after Harvard was forced to publicize their acceptance process along with many other student applications. SFFA claimed that by considering race into acceptance Harvard consequently limiting native applicants along with unfairly boosting Latino and African applicants stating the affirmative action itself is unfair. In a paper the Justice Department stated that, “The record evidence demonstrates that Harvard’s race-based admissions process significantly disadvantages Asian-American applicants compared to applicants of other racial groups — including both white applicants and applicants from other racial minority groups, The evidence, moreover, shows that Harvard provides no meaningful criteria to cabin its use of race; uses a vague ‘personal rating’ that harms Asian-American applicants’ chances for admission and may be infected with racial bias; engages in unlawful racial balancing; and has never seriously considered race-neutral alternatives in its more than 45 years of using race to make admissions decisions.” As a response, Harvard said, “Harvard does not discriminate against applicants from any group, and will continue to vigorously defend the legal right of every college and university to consider race as one factor among many in college admissions, which the Supreme Court has consistently upheld for more than 40 years.” Either way, whatever the court will decide this case is most likely going to end up in the Supreme Court and the question will be decided: if there is discrimination towards Asians throughout the application process as a country are we just not going to consider race at all anymore, even if it is with the intent of supporting minority groups?

The case at bar was filed by a white man named Ed Blum. Ed Blum is a huge advocate for SFFA and previously sued the University of Texas in the case Fisher Vs Texas in regards to race-based admission resulting in a white student not getting in. Fisher VS Texas was brought to the Supreme Court in the year of 2016 where the court sided with Texas in defending its rights to utilize race to ensure a diverse campus. In addition, the case the University of California v. Bakke was brought to the supreme court with a very similar background and yet again the Court upheld that the use of race during the admission process is justifiable in order to ensure a campus diversity. For that reason, if this case is brought to the Supreme Court I believe that like many other previous, the Supreme Court will allow Harvard to fulfill its “whole student” application process- defined as Harvard denying Asian applicants due to lack of personality- because if the Supreme Court did not then the Supreme court would have to take down Affirmative action altogether, something they’ve stood by since President John F. Kennedy in 1961. And although I don’t agree, due to past cases and power of precedent, that is what I think will be the case.


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