Could Harvard Racial Bias Case Go to Supreme Court?

Tori Miller
Contributing Writer

A federal court ruled in favor of Harvard (cover photo) against a group that claimed the elite university was biased against Asian-American applicants. Courtesy of Flickr 

Harvard University has been involved in a racial bias case centered around the acceptance rates of Asian-American students. The Ivy League university was sued by a group of white men, who say they are representing rejected anonymous Asian-American students.

This case was taken to court during October 2018. At the trial, federal Judge Allison Burroughs ruled Harvard’s admissions process was fair, stating that it doesn’t discriminate against Asian-American applicants. While Burroughs sided with Harvard, the case raised questions about academic merit and if people should think about race when considering college admissions.

According to the lawsuit brought by Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), Harvard is “employing racially and ethnically discriminatory policies and procedures in administering the undergraduate admissions program.” 

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The plaintiffs said that Harvard was placing a cap on the number of admitted Asian-American students, even when their test scores were higher than some admitted students. 

More broadly, this relates to affirmative action, which was passed by President John F. Kennedy in the 60s. It allows universities to ask an applicant’s race and was an effort to diversify college campuses.  

According to Vox, “Harvard has defended its ‘holistic review’ process that individually assesses each applicant and considers a number of factors, including academics, extracurriculars, and personal factors, with the goal of making each class diverse.” The university said that while race is one of many factors considered when assembling a class, it is never used against an applicant or as a deciding admissions factor. 

If the Harvard case goes to the Supreme Court, it could have a drastic effect on how elite colleges use race in admissions. The questions that this case makes could have a major impact on school programs intended to increase racial diversity. 

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