Education

Asian Groups Target Ivy League For Racial Discrimination

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Blake Neff Reporter

A coalition of over 100 Asian-American groups is filing a civil rights complaint against three Ivy League schools, accusing them of illegally discriminating against Asians in admissions.

The complaint against Yale University, Brown University, and Dartmouth College is similar to one filed last year against Harvard University (which was dismissed in favor of a lawsuit against the school). The three schools are accused of placing a quota on Asian students that causes them to have extremely low admission rates for them.

The complaint notes that between 1995 and 2011 Asians doubled from 2.5 percent to 5.1 percent of college-age Americans. Despite this large population increase, though, and despite extremely strong Asian academic performance, Asian enrollment at the three Ivy schools has remained stagnant. At Yale, the 1995 Asian percentage was 16.1 percent, while in 2014 it increased to just 16.58 percent. At Brown, the Asian percentage actually declined from 15.3 percent to 12.9 percent. Only at Dartmouth did the number of Asians increase, from 8.7 percent to 13.9 percent, but the complaint argues even this increased number reflects an aggressive quota system. Such quotas, the complaint then asserts, are illegal under the federal Title VI anti-discrimination law, which prohibits racial discrimination in schools receiving federal funds.

As a remedy, the complaint asks the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to investigate all three schools and require them to stop using race as a factor in admissions.

The complaint will officially be filed Monday, but has already been announced by the Asian American Coalition for Education, which is spearheading the effort. The organization has posted the text of its complaint on its website, where it has collected endorsements from 115 different Asian organizations. Most of these organizations appear to be local groups spread across the U.S., with names ranging from the Idaho Chinese Organization to the Taiwan Benevolent Association of Florida.

The outcome of the complaint almost certainly hinges on the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision in its rehearing of Fisher v. University of Texas, which concerns affirmative action policies at public universities. If that decision upholds the use of race in admissions at public universities, it will be extremely difficulty to halt such policies at private schools. On the other hand, if the Court rules that affirmative action violates the 14th Amendment, the complaint will be far more likely to succeed. Last year, the Department of Education dismissed a complaint that Princeton University discriminated against Asians, saying there was no evidence the school’s policies violated the practices currently allowed by the Supreme Court.

Yale has already responded to the pending complaint by claiming Asians suffer no disadvantage in applying to the school.

“All relevant factors are considered in the context of the application as a whole, and the decision on any applicant does not turn on any one factor alone,” spokesman Tom Conroy told the Yale Daily News. “In conducting a holistic review, applicants are not disadvantaged in the admissions process on the basis of race or national origin.”

Numbers paint a different picture, though. Researchers at Princeton University found in 2004 that being black instead of Asian was worth the equivalent of 280 points on the SAT when applying to colleges.

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