US accuses Yale of racial discrimination in admissions

University denies favouring black applicants over white and Asian American candidates

August 14, 2020
Yale University
Source: iStock
Protests about race have broken out at Yale University in recent years

The Trump administration has accused Yale University of illegally favouring black applicants over white and Asian American candidates, and has threatened it with legal action to halt the practice.

The US Justice Department, concluding what it called a two-year investigation prompted by a complaint from Asian American groups, said Yale used race as a determinative factor in hundreds of undergraduate applications each year.

Yale rejected the complaint, saying its admissions processes legally considered race as one factor among many, and accused the Justice Department of issuing its findings without letting Yale produce more data.

“Had the department fully received and fairly weighed this information,” a Yale spokeswoman said, “it would have concluded that Yale’s practices absolutely comply with decades of Supreme Court precedent.”

The Justice Department, in its statement announcing its decision, acknowledged that the US Supreme Court allows universities to consider racial balance as one factor in their admissions decisions. But, the department said, “Yale’s use of race is anything but limited.”

The department accused Yale of using racial considerations “at multiple steps of its admissions process, resulting in a multiplied effect of race on an applicant’s likelihood of admission”.

In a letter to Yale outlining its findings, Eric Dreiband, the assistant US attorney general for civil rights, said that for every year from 2000 to 2017, Yale offered admission to Asian American and white applicants at rates below their proportions of the candidate pool.

During that same 18-year period, Mr Dreiband wrote, the university admitted applicants “from Yale’s preferred racial groups at rates higher than their representation in the applicant pool”.

Mr Dreiband told Yale it had two weeks to accept a proposed “remedial measure” that includes agreeing “not to use race or national origin in its upcoming 2020-2021 undergraduate admissions cycle”, or face legal action.

Yale said that it had no plans to do so. “We are proud of Yale’s admissions practices,” the spokeswoman said, “and we will not change them on the basis of such a meritless, hasty accusation.”

Yale had fully cooperated with the investigation, compiling information on thousands of students and still relaying data on thousands more, the spokeswoman continued. The Justice Department also did not show Yale its statistical analysis or allow an opportunity to discuss its conclusions, she said.

“Their action is both rushed and deeply unfair,” she said.

Harvard University last year defeated similar accusations ostensibly brought on behalf of Asian American applicants and backed by the Trump administration. In that case, a federal court judge ruled that Harvard, even while accepting relatively low shares of Asian American applicants, did not intentionally discriminate against them.

paul.basken@timeshighereducation.com

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Reader's comments (2)

This debunks the myth that institutional racism only works one way. We know of institutions that use systems that give priority to LGBT groups for example. Frequently it is these groups who shout the loudest about discrimination, on examination their discrimination is not present at all far from it. I went to one college where all the Heads of Department and Directors were openly LGBT. When was the last time anyone went to a college where all the women were married with children in every role. When was the last time anyone saw the married woman with children flying flags and demonstrating about their lot in the education/or/ jobs market just as one example of the people who can lose out when they are discriminated against by a politically powerful protected by legislation minority. And what did anyone think would happen when a politically orientated minority group took control of education or the machinery of government. So its high time the facts as opposed to the urban myth was exposed.
Given the state of US Universities and their lack of diversity of opinion on many things, listening to our Pro-Chancellor interviewing American University students makes it very clear TDS/OMB, something he's seems to be afflicted with like most of the MSMSM, and making decisions based on racist ideas rather than meritocracy is now entrenched in many US Universities.

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