We recently wrote about how Judge Allison Burroughs, in her ruling in favor of Harvard in the Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard University case, recommended that Harvard’s admissions officers receive implicit bias training so they can avoid discriminating against groups like Asian American applicants. As Judge Burroughs wrote, “Notwithstanding the fact that Harvard’s admissions program survives strict scrutiny, it is not perfect. The process would likely benefit from conducting implicit bias trainings for admissions officers, maintaining clear guidelines on the use of race in the admissions process, which were developed during this litigation, and monitoring and making admissions officers aware of any significant race-related statistical disparities in the rating process.” And how exactly have Harvard’s administrators received this feedback?
Harvard Can Take Steps to Raise Awareness About Implicit Biases in Admissions
As reports Shera S. Avi-Yonah and Delano R. Franklin for The Harvard Crimson in a piece entitled “In Wake of Admissions Lawsuit Decision, Khurana Agrees Harvard Must Become Aware of Biases,” at least one Harvard administrator seems to back the idea. As Avi-Yonah and Franklin write, “Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana said in a Friday interview he agrees with the verdict in the Harvard admissions lawsuit asserting that the College’s admissions processes are not perfect…Despite clearing Harvard of any wrongdoing, Burroughs recommended a number of improvements to the College’s admissions policies. She suggested Harvard provide admissions officers with implicit bias training, keep clear guidelines on the consideration of race in the admissions process, and monitor statistics for potential racial disparities. Asked about Burroughs’s suggestions, Khurana singled out the value of implicit bias training. He noted that Harvard currently offers similar training for teaching fellows, faculty, and staff.”
A Harvard Administrator’s Profile in Courage
Ivy Coach salutes Harvard’s Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana for telling it like it is. Harvard may have won the SFFA lawsuit but that doesn’t mean Harvard’s admissions process is perfect — far from it. And it doesn’t mean that Harvard doesn’t discriminate against Asian American applicants. Judge Burrough’s lengthy decision in fact confirms that while Harvard’s admissions practices pass legal muster, there is significant room for improvement. But that doesn’t mean a Harvard administrator needs to publicly agree with this recommendation. Dean Khurana’s public support, in our view, represents a profile in courage.