In the suit making headlines around the world in which Harvard University is accused of discriminating against Asian American applicants, the school has barked back. In a Friday court filing, the university deemed a prior analysis of six years worth of its admission data as “fundamentally unreliable” because, they argue, the data was cherry picked in the hope of proving Asian Americans have it tougher than do applicants of other races in the school’s admissions process. In its rebuttal, the university also argues that it has in the past attempted alternatives to using race as a factor in admission but such alternatives would lead to less diverse and academically weaker incoming classes.
Harvard Files Rebuttal to Claims of Asian American Discrimination in Admissions
As Melissa Korn writes in a piece for “The Wall Street Journal” entitled “Harvard Says Ignoring Race in Admissions Would Hurt School’s Diversity, Academic Excellence,” “Harvard said in Friday’s filing that it already diversifies its class in other ways than race, including with a $200 million annual financial aid program and flagging applicants who seemed to excel despite modest backgrounds. The school also eliminated early-action admissions from 2012 to 2015, based on assumptions that such programs favor students with means who are more familiar with the admissions process, but reinstituted it after the switch was deemed to have ‘hindered’ diversity efforts. The school also noted that an internal committee in 2017 found ending race-conscious admissions would lead to a 50% decline in the proportion of African-American students, and the corresponding increase would primarily benefit white students. They also determined that the proportion of admitted students with the highest academic ratings would drop by 19% if Harvard focused more on socioeconomic diversity without consideration of race.”
The Cherrypicking of Arguments For and Against Asian American Discrimination in Admissions at Harvard
Harvard’s retort to the allegations that the university discriminates against Asian American applicants is a powerful one. Is it true? Yes and no. Of course Harvard — and all highly selective colleges — discriminates against Asian American applicants. But just as the group suing Harvard can cherrypick arguments in support of discrimination, so too can Harvard cherrypick arguments that combat these allegations. Harvard’s elimination of Early Action between 2012 – 2015 and the school’s subsequent reinstatement of the policy is one such example. As we’ve long argued, contrary to popular belief, it is a misconception that the Early round favors wealthy, non-diverse candidates.
If an underrepresented minority applicant from a low-income background applied in the Early round to a highly selective college, you bet that student would have an advantage over an applicant with a very similar profile who chose to apply Regular Decision. Just because some underrepresented minority applicants from low-income backgrounds are hesitant to apply to a school in the Early round does not mean that school’s Early policy caters to the wealthy elite. In fact, as Harvard wisely argues, the elimination of their Early Action policy between 2012 – 2015 led to a drop in diversity, a fact which runs contrary to the arguments of the college admissions peanut gallery. But it is indeed consistent with everything we at Ivy Coach have always said.
But what do our readers think of Harvard’s bark back? Let us know your thoughts on Harvard’s rebuttal to claims of Asian American discrimination in admission by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you.