UNITED STATES

US threatens to sue Harvard over admissions policy probe

USA-HARVARD/DISCRIMINATION A student sits on the steps of Widener Library at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts | Reuters

The US Justice Department has threatened to sue Harvard University to force it to turn over documents as it investigates whether the Ivy League school’s admission policies violate civil rights laws.

Citing a 2015 lawsuit that charges the school’s affirmative action policies discriminate against Asian-American applicants, the federal government in a letter set a Dec. 1 deadline for Harvard to hand over documents on its admission policies.

The Justice Department is probing the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based school’s compliance with Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, according to the letter, dated Friday and seen by Reuters on Tuesday. The measure prohibits institutions that receive federal funding from discriminating based on race, color or national origin.

“The Department is left with no choice but to conclude that Harvard is out of compliance with its Title VI access obligations,” the letter reads. “For obvious reasons, Title VI does not allow entities under investigation to dictate what information qualifies as relevant.”

Harvard has long maintained that its admissions policies are fully compliant with US laws and has worked to increase the amount of financial aid it offers to ensure economic, as well as racial, diversity in its classes.
 

The school said earlier this year that just over half of the freshmen admitted in 2017 were women, more than one in five was Asian and almost 15 percent African-American.

Harvard officials and a lawyer for the university did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The missive follows summer news reports that the Justice Department had begun an investigation into whether university affirmative action admission policies broadly discriminate against white applicants.

Affirmative action programs in higher education were meant to address America’s historic racial discrimination problem. The Supreme Court has ruled that universities may use affirmative action in admissions policies with the aim of helping minority applicants get into college.

This browser settings will not support to add bookmarks programmatically. Please press Ctrl+D or change settings to bookmark this page.

Related Reading

    Show more