Harvard consistently rated Asian-American applicants lower on personality traits, lawsuit says

18 June, 2018, 02:15 | Author: Kim Reid
  • Harvard gives Asian Americans lower personality ratings than other races lawsuit claims

In a federal court case deciding if Harvard University discriminates against Asian-American applicants, both parties say the evidence is firmly on their side.

Harvard said in a statement that it doesn't discriminate against any group and that evidence shows the rate of admissions for Asian-American students has grown 29 percent over the last decade.

The group states that Harvard assigns Asian American students the lowest score of any other racial group based on traits such as "positive personality" and "likability".

The court documents, filed in federal court in Boston, also showed that Harvard conducted an internal investigation into its admissions policies in 2013 and found a bias against Asian-American applicants.

A group called Students for Fair Admissions sued Harvard contending that the school's admissions process significantly and unfairly limits the percentage of Asians who are accepted each year.

Attorneys for Harvard called the internal review "incomplete, preliminary and based on limited inputs".

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The 2013 review found that the proportion of Asian-American students would rise from the actual 19 percent to 43 percent if academic achievement were the only factor.

The New York Times reported Friday that the group claimed it analyzed more than 160,000 student records and found that Asian-Americans ranked lower on items like being "widely respected". Instead, they made up just 22 percent.

Yet Harvard alumni who interview applicants and provide their own ratings generally scored Asian-Americans higher than whites, a contrast that Arcidiacono says suggests bias.

"SFFA is left to offer only gerrymandered statistics to support its claims, but that evidence is far too flawed to support a finding of discrimination at trial", Harvard's legal team wrote.

They quoted figures stating that an Asian-American male applicant with a 25 percent chance of admission would have a 35 percent chance if he was white, 75 percent if he were Hispanic and a 95 percent chance if he were black.

She said the plaintiffs "will seek to paint an unfamiliar and inaccurate image" of Harvard admissions.

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The study found that even considering factors like legacy status and extracurricular activities, 26 percent of the admitted class would have been expected to be Asian-American.

Lieu acknowledged universities can use race as a factor in admissions, citing the Supreme Court case Fisher v. University of Texas.

The school also said Blum's group lacks the standing to pursue its case, saying, "SFFA is not a true membership organization that can sue on behalf of its members; it is a litigation vehicle created to further the ideological objectives" of its founder. The lawsuit was filed by Students for Fair Admissions, a nonprofit focused on challenging race as a consideration in college admissions. The court has denied Harvard's motions to dismiss, and the case is moving forward, which caused the university to defend its admissions practices in an email to its alumni.

Harvard did not directly counter the personal-rating statistic but said in a Friday filing that the challengers' data analysis failed to include applicants such as athletes and children of parents who attended Harvard or of staff at the school.

"Rather, Harvard's admissions process is created to identify engaged and creative students who will take their place as the leaders of the next generation and who will be equipped to deal with a complex, diverse world".

The judge ultimately sided with Harvard, but Blum said Friday that he believes the rest of the records will be released 'in the next few weeks'.

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