Justice Department Sues Yale Over Alleged Racial Discrimination Against Asian American And White Applicants

REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin

Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
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The Justice Department sued Yale University over claims that the school racially discriminates against Asian-American and white applicants in violation of federal civil rights law, numerous sources reported.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in federal court in Connecticut and alleges that Yale “discriminates based on race and national origin in its undergraduate admissions process, and that race is the determinative factor in hundreds of admissions decisions each year,” according to the Associated Press.

The Justice Department notified Yale of its alleged violations of Title VI — which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in programs that receive taxpayer money — in August after a two-year investigation. The probe revealed that Yale, which is among the country’s most selective and prestigious universities, discriminated against undergraduate applicants on the basis of race and national origin. Race specifically was the determinative factor in hundreds of admissions decisions each year, the investigation found.

“Yale grants substantial, and often determinative, preferences based on race to certain racially-favored applicants and relatively and significantly disfavors other applicants because of their race, an August letter from the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department says. 

The complaint states that there are some racially-favored Asian-American subgroups, including Cambodian, Hmong, Laotian, or Vietnamese. These subgroups are not included in the Department’s references to Asian applicants “for the purposes of this Complaint,” and racially penalized applicants include applicants who identify as Asian and/or white.

The Justice Department previously warned the university with a letter that gave Yale a deadline to agree to stop considering an applicant’s race or national origin in its 2020-2021 admissions cycle, but Yale responded that it would not abandon its race-conscious process, according to Bloomberg. Yale also denied the allegations, calling them “meritless” and “hasty.”

Asian American and white applicants have only one-tenth to one-fourth of the likelihood of admission as African American applicants with comparable credentials and Yale rejects scores of Asian American and white applicants each year based on their race, although these applicants would otherwise be admitted, according to the investigation. (RELATED: Justice Department Probe Into Yale Finds Civil Rights Violations, Discrimination Against Asian American And White Applicants)

While the Supreme Court has ruled that colleges that receive taxpayer funding may consider race in admissions as one of a number of factors, the government says that Yale’s practice was not limited, using race at “multiple steps of its admissions process” which resulted in a “multiplied effect of race on an applicant’s likelihood of admission.”

“There is no such thing as a nice form of race discrimination,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said in the August statement.