Justice Department threatens to sue Harvard over Asian-American admission records

Daily News Article   —   Posted on November 29, 2017

The U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) has threatened to sue the university as they seek information as part of an investigation into Harvard’s affirmative action policies and whether the university discriminates against Asian-American applicants.

The department sent a letter last week requesting the applications and Harvard’s evaluations of prospective students to the university.

“Harvard has not yet produced a single document,” the letter states. “We sincerely hope that Harvard will quickly correct its noncompliance and return to a collaborative approach.”

The Justice Department’s investigation stems from complaints that formed the basis of a federal civil lawsuit filed in 2014 in Boston. That suit, brought by the non-profit group Students for Fair Admissions, alleges Harvard intentionally discriminates against Asian-Americans by limiting the number of Asian students who are admitted. The suit is pending.

The lawsuit and Justice Department investigation focus on Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits institutions that receive federal funding from discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national origin. Critics have alleged that offering a weighted application to black and Latino students discriminates against white and Asian applicants to college.

The DOJ previously posted a job opening for lawyers to work on an investigation into another 2015 complaint filed by Asian American Coalition for Education (a group of 64 Asian-American associations) with both the Justice Department and the Education Department that alleges Harvard discriminates against Asian-American applicants. Harvard has repeatedly argued that their policies are not biased against one group of students and that their process “considers each applicant as a whole person, and we review many factors.”

Explaining Harvard’s refusal to provide the Justice Department with the required documents, a university spokesperson said:

“As we have repeatedly made clear to the Department of Justice, the University will certainly comply with its obligations under Title VI.  In the process, we have an obligation to protect the confidentiality of student and applicant files and other highly sensitive records, and we have been seeking to engage the Department of Justice in the best means of doing so.”

The DOJ letter reads in part:

“The Department is left with no choice but to conclude that Harvard is out of compliance with its Title VI access obligations. Title VI does not allow entities under investigation to dictate what information qualifies as relevant.”

The letter, sent Nov. 17, gives Harvard until the first of December to comply with the records request or face a lawsuit from the Justice Department.

Compiled from articles by Michelle Williams at MassLive.com, Amber Randall at DailyCaller, WSJ and Fortune. Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission.


Students for Fair Admissions "believe that racial classifications and preferences in college admissions are unfair, unnecessary, and unconstitutional." and that "A student’s race and ethnicity should not be factors that either harm or help that student to gain admission to a competitive university."  (Read more at the website: studentsforfairadmissions.org)

The Asian-American Coalition for Education was formed “to unite Asian-American communities to speak out against Ivy Leagues schools’ discriminatory college admission practices against Asian-American children.” (Read more at the website: asianamericanforeducation.org)

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a landmark civil rights and US labor law in the United States that outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It prohibited unequal application of voter registration requirements, racial segregation in schools, employment, and public accommodations. (from wikipedia)

The Civil Rights Act of 1964:  Long Title: An act to enforce the constitutional right to vote, to confer jurisdiction upon the district courts of the United States of America to provide injunctive relief against discrimination in public accommodations, to authorize the Attorney General to institute suits to protect constitutional rights in public facilities and public education, to extend the Commission on Civil Rights, to prevent discrimination in federally assisted programs, to establish a Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity, and for other purposes.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act:

Read the text of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 at the Library of Congress website.