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Anti-Asian Bias Complaint Against Harvard Tossed Out

The U.S. Education Department threw out the complaint because similar concerns were the focal point of a federal lawsuit.
BY Braingain Staff Writer |   10-07-2015

Harvard won a reprieve as the U.S Education Department on Tuesday dismissed a complaint brought against it by an Asian group which says Harvard places caps on the number of Asians it will admit each year to ensure the elite institution is not over run by high-scoring Asians.

According to education officials, the anti-Asian bias complaint was thrown out because similar concerns were the focal point of a federal lawsuit.

"We are very let down because we had strong third-party statistics and evidence to back up our case. We expected action and fair treatment," said a lead organizer of the Asian coalition.

In May, a coalition of over 60 Chinese, Indian, Korean and Pakistani organizations filed a complaint with the education department's Civil Rights Office by saying Harvard used racial quotas to keep high-scoring Asian students out. They alleged Harvard indulged in "systemic and continuous discrimination" against Asian Americans by setting higher admission standards for them.

The group channeled exhaustive research on the SAT tests showing that to get into exclusive Harvard, Asians needed SAT scores that are about 140 points higher than those of their white peers. They pointed to strong evidence that Harvard engages in racial "balancing."

Sara Harberson, a former Ivy League admissions dean wrote in the Los Angeles Times that "although colleges would never admit students based on 'quotas,' they fearlessly will 'sculpt' the class with race and gender percentages in mind."

Harvard denies the charge, saying its "holistic" admissions process looks at applicants' "extracurricular activities and leadership qualities". However, the Asian group contended that the university uses amorphous “holistic” criteria as a way to apply different standards to different applicant groups — e.g., play down objective test marks for Asian students, play up testimonials and recommendation letters for whites.

Harvard said on Tuesday that it "has demonstrated a strong record of recruiting and admitting Asian-Americans." The number of Asian-American students admitted to Harvard has climbed from 17.6%  to 21% over the last ten years.

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