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Education

After Harvard, Yale is now being investigated for discriminating against Asian-American applicants

The action follows an investigation of Harvard University

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 September, 2018, 6:04am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 September, 2018, 10:52pm

Yale University is under investigation by the federal government for discriminating against Asian-American applicants, President Peter Salovey acknowledged in a statement on Wednesday.

The Justice Department is already examining admissions policies at Harvard University, which is also accused in a civil lawsuit of bias against Asian-American applicants. That case is scheduled to go to trial in Boston on October 15.

The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported that the Justice and Education Departments have initiated a civil rights inquiry into whether Yale illegally discriminates against Asian-American in its application process.

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“I write now to state unequivocally that Yale does not discriminate in admissions against Asian Americans or any other racial or ethnic group, to share information about our undergraduate admissions practices, and to affirm our unwavering commitment to diversity as a pillar of this university,” Salovey said in an email message to the Yale community.

The development signals that the Justice Department has expanded its scrutiny of admissions practices to other elite private universities. A department spokeswoman, Kelly Laco, declined to confirm the investigation, saying only that the department “takes extremely seriously any potential violation of an individual’s constitutional rights”.

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Over the last 15 years, the number of Asian Americans in Yale’s freshman class has grown from less than 14 per cent to 21.7 per cent of the class of 2022, Salovey said.

Asian Americans make up the second-largest group of students in the freshman class of almost 1,600, after white students at 53 per cent, according to school data.

Only 6.3 per cent of the 35,308 applicants for the freshman class won admission.

A group called the Asian American Coalition for Education says on its website that it complained to the Justice Department in 2016 about admissions practices at Yale, Brown and Dartmouth universities. Emails and phone calls to Brown and Dartmouth were not immediately returned.

Yale, Harvard and other schools defend their admissions practices, saying that they consider more than just test scores in weighing applicants.

“Yale College could fill its entire entering class several times over with applicants who reach the 99th percentile in standardised testing and who have perfect high school grade point averages, but we do not base admission on such numbers alone,” Salovey said.

“We take into consideration a multitude of factors, including their academic achievement, interests, demonstrated leadership, background, success in taking maximum advantage of their secondary school and community resources, and the likelihood that they will contribute to the Yale community and the world,” he added.

Trump administration sides with Asian-Americans in Harvard case

The Trump administration has previously backed the claims by the plaintiffs in the civil suit against Harvard. That case was initiated by the anti-affirmative action advocate Edward Blum.