Asian-Americans: Harvard Holds Us to Higher Standards

Federal complaint says school discriminates in its admissions policy
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2015 1:51 PM CDT
Asian-Americans: Harvard Holds Us to Higher Standards
In this file photo, visitors tour the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.   (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

(Newser) – Asian-Americans make up 6% of the US population but 21% of this year's freshman class at Harvard, reports the Boston Globe. An impressive stat for Asian-Americans? It's more like a disgrace, asserts a federal complaint lodged against the university yesterday by Asian-American groups. It argues that the 21% figure should be way higher but that Harvard holds Asian-American students to higher standards than students of other races. "We want to eliminate discrimination of Asian-Americans, and we want procedural justice for all racial groups," organizer Yukong Zhao tells NBC News. In response, a Harvard spokesperson says the school's "holistic" admissions policies are designed to create a diverse student body, and he notes that the percentage of Asian-American students has risen from about 18% over the last decade.

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Not good enough, says the complaint, which wants Harvard to “immediately cease and desist from using stereotypes, racial biases and other discriminatory means in evaluating Asian-American applicants,” reports the Wall Street Journal. The complaint cites research showing that Asian-American students must score 140 points higher than white students on SATs, 270 points higher than Hispanics, and 450 points higher than African-Americans to equal their chances of admission. The complaint, filed with the US Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, doesn't single out any individual cases of alleged discrimination, but it calls for a federal investigation of Harvard policies. (Read more Harvard stories.)

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