After two weeks of the plaintiffs presenting evidence and testimony alleging bias against Asian American applicants to Harvard, the school’s lawyers continued their counter argument with their supporters and experts.
As the trial entered the third and final week, The Boston Globe published a story saying that new guidelines surrounding the use of race were given to its admission evaluators.
“Harvard’s updated guidelines for seemingly the first time explicitly tell admissions officials evaluating the crop of students for the class of 2023 in what instances they should consider an applicant’s race. And they provide far more detailed information on how to measure personal qualities such as courage, leadership, and resiliency. Harvard’s use of these attributes in the admissions process is at the center of the complaint by the Students for Fair Admissions,” reported the Globe.
The guidelines, issued about 10 days before the start of the current trial addressed those unquantifiable qualities that are under the microscope in the lawsuit. It also told admission officers to not lean favorably to only outgoing students, but also to consider introverts, as well.
Harvard’s lawyers presented one of Harvard’s alumnae, Ruth J. Simmons, president of Prairie View A&M University and the former president of Brown University. She endorsed Harvard’s practice of giving points or preferences for legacy students or children of rich donors.
“It is entirely appropriate for them to believe that it would be wonderful if their children could also enjoy the same benefits that they enjoyed as students,” Simmons said of alumni of Ivy League institutions. “We’ve been made stronger by benefit of that [alumni] involvement… one way for us to signal how important that is to us is that we consider their children in the context of our admissions process.”
Under cross-examination, she clarified that students who didn’t qualify or meet Harvard’s academic standards should not be admitted simply because they have the privilege of privilege.
Later in the day, taking the stand was economist David E. Card, a University of California at Berkeley professor whom Harvard employed to analyze its admissions data ahead of the trial.
Card challenged the conclusion of anti-Asian discrimination in Harvard’s admissions policies that were presented by the expert of the Students for Fair Admissions, which brought the lawsuit to trial.
“My conclusion is that the statistical evidence does not support the claim that Harvard discriminates against Asian American applicants,” said Card. “There is no statistical evidence that Harvard has engaged in racial balancing.”
He also said, “Race is a factor in admissions to Harvard. It is a factor that is valued in some candidates,” he said. “There is never a situation where race alone is determinative.”
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