Harvard evaluates prospective students based on a number of criteria, including academic achievement, outside activities, and personality characteristics, such as likeability and kindness. But according to an affirmative action lawsuit filed by a group representing Asian-American students, the school consistently scored Asian-American applicants lower than other groups on personal qualities, which affected their admission chances, reports the New York Times. The suit cites an analysis of 160,000 student records, which found that although Asian-American students scored higher than other groups on academic and extra-curricular measures, their personal ratings lagged and lowered their overall rating. The group accuses Harvard of increasing admissions of white, black, and Hispanic applicants at the expense of Asian-American students, reports CNN.
The suit has forced Harvard to disclose its admissions process, which has been a closely held secret. Harvard strongly defends its admissions practices, and accuses the group of using misleading data. Harvard’s own research office found that if admission were based purely on academic achievement, 43% of an admitted class would be Asian-American, notes the Boston Globe. Last spring, 23% of the students admitted were Asian-American. Harvard has countered with an updated review that contradicts the group’s finding and concludes that in the last decade, admissions of Asian-Americans grew by 29%. Harvard is calling the suit, “the latest salvo by ideological opponents of the consideration of race in university admissions." (Read more Harvard stories.)