Is Harvard discriminating against Asian-American students?

One complaint with the United States Department of Education and another lawsuit against Harvard University claims that Harvard, along with other elite universities, are levying unfair admission standards against Asian-Americans based on their race.

The groups, which consists of at least 60 coalitions, state that Asian-Americans are held to a higher standard because they have higher test scores and better “overall academic achievement” than other racial groups.

According to the Washington Post, the complaint with the Dept. of Education states that Asian-American students “have the lowest acceptance rates at Harvard University…despite having some of the highest test scores.”

The lawsuit, filed by Students for Fair Admissions, alleges that Harvard violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. That section bans prejudice based on “race, color, and national origin.” The group says that the discrimination happens at all Ivy League higher education institutions and that data suggests that Ivy League schools were being discriminatory based on the number of Asian-Americans applying to those schools, specifically Harvard, and “the number of Asians Harvard was admitting.”

A lot going on with both claims as they seem to be based on a sort of reverse discrimination. Asian-American students are seen as over achievers, and if the complaint alleging that their test scores are among the highest of student applicants, then the accusations are at least worth exploring.

Defining racial discrimination in case where minority students are claiming inequity because of academic achievement sounds almost outlandish. It may also be tough to prove without sound proof and stringent data.

But a case where any set of minorities feels left out of the possibility of attaining a post-secondary education due to their skin color or heritage will likely solicit strong reactions from those against any form of Affirmative Action and legal counsel from the accused institutions.

With this situation, the waters may be a little murky because Harvard is a private institution of higher education. Attempting to force the rationale of adding diversity for the sake of variety may not work out so well. Harvard, for its part, has, of course, admitted Asian-American students and will continue to do.

The question is are they admitting too little a number, and if so, is there a racial quota?

Either way, watching this play out shall be interesting because of the implications that it may have for other private schools and their admission policies.

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