Student group suing Harvard for discrimination against Asian-American applicants

In a recently published article for The Atlantic, author Alia Wong covers what she terms “Harvard’s Impossible Personality Test.”

Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), an organization that represents Asian-American students who were rejected from Harvard at some point, Wong writes, is suing Harvard.

SFFA recently filed motions summarizing what SFFA’s president Edward Blum describes as the “startling magnitude of Harvard’s discrimination” against Asian-American applicants.

The case is set to go to trial in October.

The SFFA rests its case on an analysis of more than 160,000 student records.

The records, Wong writes, demonstrate that while Asian-American applicants had overall higher standardized test scores and grades (as well as stronger extracurricular resumes) than applicants from other racial groups, they “consistently received lower ratings” on personality traits.

Such personality traits include soft skills like “integrity,”  “likeability,” and “helpfulness,” Wong writes.

Harvard has released a public response to SFFA’s allegations.

Wong interviews attorney Nicole Ochi, who works with Asian-Americans Advancing Justice.

Ochi fears that the SFFA lawsuit may prompt higher education institutions across the U.S. to “roll back” the extent to which they consider race as a factor in the admissions process or even eliminate the process entirely.

Such consequences would be a “death knell for affirmative action everywhere,” Ochi states.

Ochi worries that such action would fail to address any implicit bias at play in admission decisions.

For more information on the allegations, the case, and Harvard’s response, read the full article.

So, what do you think? Are Harvard’s practices discriminatory or are you convinced by the school’s defense of its “holistic approach” to admission? Is the discrepancy demonstrated by the reports the result of implicit bias or have the numbers been misrepresented?

Let us know what you think in the comments!

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