Justice Department Investigates Harvard for Anti-Asian Bias


You have a 1550 SAT score, a 4.0 GPA with advanced honors classes, you had plenty of extracurriculars and can play classical music on both cello and piano. Your college entrance essay was a flawless work of prose. Is that enough to get into Harvard? Maybe not, if you’re Asian, according to a lawsuit recently filed against the college.

The complaint, filed by a coalition of 64 Asian-American associations in May 2015, alleges racial discrimination against Asian-Americans in Harvard’s admissions policy. Harvard denies the allegations, and according to the Wall Street Journal, is not cooperating with the investigation. In a November 17 letter, Justice indicated that the school was being investigated under the Civil Rights Act, following a claim that the school used race as a deciding factor in admissions decisions. The school failed to meet a November 3 deadline issued by Justice to show documents related to their admissions policies, and if they do not comply, Justice may file a lawsuit against Harvard to force them to turn over documents.

According to a report in the Hindustan Times, the complaint said, “Many Asian-American students who have almost perfect SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores, top one percent GPAs (Grade Point Average), plus significant awards or leadership positions in various extracurricular activities have been rejected by Harvard University and other Ivy League Colleges while similarly situated applicants of other races have been admitted.”

The point that students with high scores as well as extracurriculars are still being denied admission contradicts Harvard’s frequent contention that they judge based on the “whole student” rather than just grade point average. The Hindustan reports that elite universities frequently set academic standards for Asian students which are higher than the standards set for applicants of other races. A Princeton study recently found that Asian-American students had to score 140 points more than white applicants in the SAT before gaining admission to the Ivy Leagues.

Thomas Abraham, Chairman of The Global Organisation of Persons of Indian Origin (Gopio), one of the 64 complainants, noted that there was a need for affirmative action programs to right historical injustices against African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans, but the quota should not result in discrimination against Indians or other Asians.