ADEA Washington Update

Yale and Harvard Affirmative Action Challenges

(Education, Department of Justice, Department of Education, Federal Court, Higher Education) Permanent link   All Posts

Affirmative action policies in university admissions have been controversial since they were first implemented, with several challenges in court. On Sept. 26, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Education publicized their investigation of Yale University for potential discrimination against Asian-Americans in their admissions process. In a statement by the university’s President, Peter Salovey, he noted that the school considers “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 also stated that the number of Asian-American students who arrive as freshmen each year has “grown from 14 percent in the class of 2007 to 21.7 percent in the class of 2022.”

In August, the Department of Justice weighed in on a lawsuit against Harvard University in support of plaintiffs who have sued the institution for allegedly discriminating against Asian-American students in admissions, allegations that are similar to those made against Yale. The Harvard lawsuit and Yale investigations could have far-reaching consequences for college admissions policies and for affirmative action, a tool rooted in the civil-rights era to make American education and opportunity more equitable.

Students for Fair Admissions, a nonprofit group opposed to any used of race in higher education admissions, filed the original suit in 2014 on behalf of several Asian-American students who were denied admission to Harvard despite having top grades and test scores.

ADEA, along with 36 other higher education organizations and stakeholders, expressed solidarity with Harvard College in support of race-conscious college admissions in an Amici brief filed in U.S. district court in late July. 

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