Justice Dept to Probe Charges of Race-based Bias Against Harvard

A group of Asian organisations, including Indian bodies, had said that Harvard University discriminates against students from these communities in its admission process.


Donald Trump administration is launching an investigation into charges of discrimination made against Harvard University by Asian groups, including four Indian-American organisations. The groups had alleged that the university shows a bias against students from these communities in its admission process.

The development comes even as the university is making headlines with the news that for the first time in its 380-year history, the majority of students offered admission this year are not white.

Asian-American Groups Allege Bias

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said on Wednesday, the department wants to investigate the “administrative complaint filed by a coalition of 64 Asian-American associations in May 2015 that the prior administration left unresolved,” IANS reported, adding that Flores said, “The complaint alleges racial discrimination against Asian-Americans in a university’s admission policy and practices.”

Among the 64 groups that jointly filed the complaint are The Global Organisation of Persons of Indian Origin (Gopio), National Federation of Indian-American Associations, American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin, and BITS Sindri Alumni Association of North India. The complaint had said:

“Many Asian-American students who have almost perfect SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores, top one per cent GPAs (Grade Point Average), plus significant awards or leadership positions in various extracurricular activities have been rejected by Harvard University and other Ivy League Colleges while similarly situated applicants of other races have been admitted.”

Intake of Non-White Students 

The university will take 50.8 per cent of its freshmen from minority groups in 2017, a figure that most publications said was this high for the first time in the institute’s history. A Los Angeles Times report, however, said that this was not the first time, pointing out that the proportion is down from 51.4 per cent recorded last year.

A total of 2,056 candidates have been offered admission this year, including 22.2 per cent Asian Americans, 14.6 per cent African Americans, 11.6 per cent Latinos, 1.9 per cent Native Americans and 0.5 per cent Native Hawaiians.

Last year, the corresponding total figure was 2,037 students, comprising 22.1 pre cent Asian American, 14 per cent African American, 12.7 per cent Latino, 2.2 per cent Native American and 0.4 per cent Native Hawaiian students, LA Times reported. 

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