Judge Rules Harvard’s Disparities Among Diverse Applicants Is Not 'Conscious Prejudice'

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Judge Rules Harvard’s Disparities Among Diverse Applicants Is Not 'Conscious Prejudice'

Meanwhile, new research found Harvard gives special treatment to affluent white applicants.

Published October 2nd

Written by Zayda Rivera

A federal judge ruled Tuesday (October 1) that Harvard University does not discriminate against Asian-Americans in undergraduate admissions, The Washington Post reports

While U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs admitted Harvard’s “admissions process may be imperfect,” she rejected claims that the Ivy League institution violates the law as it considers race in selecting an incoming freshman class, as the plaintiff, Students for Fair Admissions, claimed, The Washington Post reports.

Furthermore, the judge concluded statistical disparities among racial groups of applicants “are not the result of any racial animus or conscious prejudice.” 

“The use of race benefits certain racial and ethnic groups that would otherwise be underrepresented at Harvard and is therefore neither an illegitimate use of race or reflective of racial prejudice,” Burroughs wrote. 

As for the “imperfect” part of the admissions process at Harvard, Burroughs stated that “the Court will not dismantle a very fine admissions program that passes constitutional muster, solely because it could do better.” 

“Students for Fair Admissions is disappointed that the court has upheld Harvard’s discriminatory admissions policies,” the group’s president, Edward Blum, said in a statement after the ruling. “We believe that the documents, emails, data analysis and depositions SFFA presented at trial compellingly revealed Harvard’s systematic discrimination against Asian-American applicants.” 

Duke economist Peter Arcidiacono, who was an expert witness against Harvard in the trial, published a new paper with several other economists, that contradicts the court ruling, The Atlantic reports

Researchers found that more than 40 percent of accepted white students between 2009 and 2014 were considered ALDC -- athletes, legacies, “dean’s list” or related to donors, and the children of faculty, according to The Atlantic. Three-quarters of those white students would have been rejected without such preferences, researchers said.

These findings were obtained through data collected during the trial, according to The Atlantic.  

“The consideration of race, alongside many other factors, helps us achieve our goal of creating a diverse student body that enriches the education of every student,” Harvard President Lawrence S. Bacow wrote to the university, The Washington Post reports. “Everyone admitted to Harvard College has something unique to offer our community, and today we reaffirm the importance of diversity -- and everything it represents to the world.”

(Photo: TriggerPhoto)

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