HomeAsian AmericansCourt: Harvard's Race conscious admissions doesn't discriminate against Asian Americans

Court: Harvard’s Race conscious admissions doesn’t discriminate against Asian Americans

Asian American diversity rally at Harvard

A federal district judge ruled this afternoon against a lawsuit accusing Harvard of discriminating against Asian Americans in race conscious admissions, reports NPR.

Judge Allison D. Burroughs wrote that “Harvard’s admission program passes constitutional muster,” and that “ensuring diversity at Harvard relies, in part, on race conscious admissions.”

The case has garnered national attention has has highlighted a clear divide between conservative, mostly recent Chinese immigrants, and Asian Americans who have been in this country longer.

Strongly hurting the case filed by Edward Blum and his group, Students for Fair Admissions, is the failure to find a single Asian American student to testify they had been hurt by race based admissions.

On the contrary, several Asian Americans students that supported Harvard’s admissions program testified in support of the program.

“As an Asian American, affirmative action helped give me a fair shot in Harvard’s application process,” said Sally Chen, who testified in support of Harvard in the trial last fall and is now an Economic Justice Program Manager at Chinese for Affirmative Action in San Francisco. “The court made the right decision for Asian Americans, for diversity in education, and for all of the students like me who believe race is an important part of our identity and something we deserve to be able to share. The fight for racial equity is far from over. I will continue to fight for race-conscious policies on behalf of other Asian American students at Harvard and across other college campuses.”

Numerous polls have shown Asian American overwhelmingly support affirmative action, although the gap has been narrowing in the Chinese American community.

Reaction from Asian Americans has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Today’s decision is a critical victory for Asian American students, who benefit from affirmative action and support race-conscious admissions policies,” said Aarti Kohli, executive director of Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus. “While we must do more to ensure that Asian American students do not face unequal opportunities through harassment, stereotyping and language barriers, the use of race-conscious admissions policies — which safeguard against discrimination — is an important step.”

“Affirmative action has always been a powerful tool for Asian Americans and other disadvantaged communities seeking to reduce and redress systemic discrimination,” stated Vincent Pan, Co-Executive Director at Chinese for Affirmative Action. “The court’s decision will make it harder for White conservatives and their divisive, political machinery to blame affirmative action for the real challenges facing Asian Americans seeking equitable representation in education, employment,business, government, or the media.”

The court’s ruling today confirmed what the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld: affirmative action policies expand equal educational opportunity for all people of color, including Asian Americans, and are legal. It’s time for Edward Blum and the Barr Department of Justice to accept that, said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

“Harvard’s admissions program has been designed and implemented in a manner that allows every application to be reviewed in a holistic manner consistent with the guidance set forth by the Supreme Court,” Burroughs decision reads. The plaintiff in the case “did not present a single admissions file that reflected any discriminatory animus, or even an application of an Asian American who it contended should have or would have been admitted absent an unfairly deflated personal rating.”

Students for Fair Admissions argued Harvard’s policy of giving personality ratings to applicants discriminated against Asian Americans. Burroughs disagreed.

“[T]he Court is unable to identify any individual applicant whose admissions decision was affected and finds that the disparity in the personal ratings did not burden Asian-American applicants significantly more than Harvard’s race-conscious policies burdened white applicants.” 

It is highly likely we haven’t heard the end of this debate. It will likely go through the appeal process that could ultimately end up in Trump’s conservative US Supreme Court.

More to come…

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