indica Washington Bureau
In the ongoing high-profile lawsuit against Harvard University for alleged anti-Asian-American admissions biases, an influential Republican lawmaker urged the Trump administration to put an end to discrimination against students applying for admission to higher educational institutions in the US.
In a letter to the Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher stated that race should not be used as criteria for academic opportunities.
“Allegations that Harvard University’s use of race in its admissions process limits the number of Asian-Americans who are accepted is a sobering reminder that we have a long way to go to ensure that race is not used as criteria for academic opportunities,” Rohrabacher wrote.
“Efforts to achieve a specific level of racial diversity inevitably costs some who are well-qualified for admission to be deprived of something they earned,” he said.
According to a 2014 lawsuit filed by Students For Fair Admissions – an organization of students and parents, which is now backed by the Trump administration – the prestigious university racially discriminates against Asian-American students by rating them lower than others applicants on traits like “positive personality,”
An analysis of admission data, commissioned by the group, of more than 160,000 students who applied for admission from 2000 to 2015, showed that Asians were given lower scores on “personality” traits – likability, courage, kindness and being “widely respected”.
Noting that it is “disheartening” that the issue of discrimination is once again making headlines, Rohrabacher stressed that it is critical to get to the bottom of this matter so that applicants of any race or ethnic origin can be judged based on their merits rather than their ethnicity or skin color.
If numbers are to be believed, out of more than 40,000 applications a year to Harvard University, not quite 2,000 make the final cut, that is just one admitted for every 19 rejected.
In its federal court filing, the Justice Department alleged that there is substantial evidence to demonstrate that Harvard admissions officers and committees consistently monitor and manipulate the racial makeup of incoming classes, resulting in stable racial demographics in Harvard’s admitted classes from year to year.
Testifying in a federal court recently, Harvard’s Dean of Admissions William Fitzsimmons argued that the school lowers the admission standards a bit for many students from rural regions only to have diversity at the campus.
Harvard has categorically denied that it discriminates, saying that the university holds Asian-American applicants to a higher standard than people of other races, and that the admission of the said community has risen 29 per cent over the last decade.
With more Harvard officials set to testify in the trial challenging the college’s admission process in the coming week, experts say that a ruling “against” Harvard is likely to change the country’s higher education landscape.
The case against Harvard has been engineered by activist Edward Blum, who in the past has used white plaintiffs to challenge racial policies. Blum aims to win reversal of a 1978 Supreme Court decision that first endorsed the use race in admissions to ensure campus diversity.