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Asian Americans on Opposing Side of Harvard Discrimination Case

Asian American diversity rally at Harvard

The divide over affirmative action in the Asian American community is playing out behind the scenes in the discrimination suit filed against Harvard University.

32 Asian American groups and faculty members filed papers in court urging the Massachusetts Federal Court to reject the suit alleging that the Ivy League school discriminates against Asian Americans.

The groups are as diverse as the Japanese American Citizens League, Chinese for Affirmative Action, National Korean American Service & Education Consortium, OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

“Significantly, not a single Asian American applicant offered testimony claiming to be a victim of discrimination. Harvard’s individualized admissions process, which takes race into account, actually helps to dispel the harmful ‘model minority’ myth by recognizing the vast ethnic, language, and socioeconomic diversity within the Asian American community,” said Margaret Fung, Executive Director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Also filing briefs this week were Asian American groups supporting the lawsuit. The coalition, up to now, has been made up of largely Chinese American groups. The latest filing supporting the lawsuit includes 30 Korean American groups and several large South Asian groups, including the National Federation of Indian American Associations, reports WGBH.

“Harvard sends invitation letters to white students with PSAT scores of around 1310, but not to Asian males with scores of 1370 and higher,” said Wenyuan Wu, a leader in the anti-affirmative action coalition, said to WGBH.

Coalition president Yukong Zhao blames discrimination against Asian American for causing depression and suicide.

“It is a modern-day social injustice done to Asian Americans by powerful institutions and the political establishment,” Zhao said. “It clearly undermines the spirit of the American Dream, which promises that each American citizen should have equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination and initiative.”

The three-day trial brought to the court by Students for Fair Admissions ended in November. It is the brainchild of Edward Blum, who has filed similar lawsuits including Fisher v University of Texas. The Supreme Court ultimately ruled in favor of affirmative action in that case.

“It is clear that Asian Americans were simply used by SFFA, whose agenda was not to help Asians but to oppose affirmative action for Blacks and Latinos,” said Ken Kimerling, AALDEF legal director . “We have not identified any direct or circumstantial evidence sufficient to prove that Harvard intentionally discriminates against Asian Americans, and we urge the Court to find in favor of Harvard’s race-conscious admissions program.”

A ruling is expected sometime this winter.

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