Complaints of discrimination against one of American’s most prestigious Ivy League colleges were heard over the summer by US District Judge Allison D. Burroughs. After deliberations, the federal court judge ruled earlier this week that Harvard University was not guilty of discriminating against Asian-Americans, as the plaintiffs’ Students for Fair Admissions had claimed in their suit.
Tuesday’s ruling closed the book on just one in a series of ongoing complaints registered against the elite university. The school has taken a lot of flack for its admissions process over the years, even becoming the focus of an investigative episode of Netflix’s Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj last year.
Edward Blum, President of Students for Fair Admissions, led the recent charge against the college with a complaint that said that Harvard admissions practices showed “systematic discrimination against Asian-American applications.” The suit goes on to allege that Harvard’s consideration of race when reviewing applications for undergraduate admissions restricts the annual number of Asian students selected for admittance to the school in an attempt to “racially balance” the campus.
In a letter written by Harvard’s President Lawrence S. Bacow, the president stated the consideration of an applicant’s race, in conjunction with other salient details, helps the college with their mission of creating a more “diverse student body.” Bacow believes each student admitted to the school helps to offer something unique to the community. This is despite claims by groups like Students for Fair Admissions and the Asian American Legal Foundation, which claim the very practices Lawrence touts for their diversity are being used to shut out otherwise highly qualified candidates based solely on their race.
While Burroughs ruled in Harvard’s favor, she did note the school’s admissions process was far from perfect. “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,” she wrote, while maintaining she didn’t believe Harvard’s practice was the result of “any racial animus or conscious prejudice.”
The case had a lot of interest from other groups who claim that there’s a larger ongoing practice of “hidden quotas” and unwritten limits placed on the number of Asian-American students allowed to be admitted to top-tier schools in the name of diversity.
After the judge’s ruling was released Students for Fair Admissions announced it plans to appeal the verdict.