Imagine if a private college – even one that took no federal funds – openly skewed its admission standards in a way that would ensure qualified blacks would be rejected in favor of less qualified whites. Every tool of state and federal government, the media, the virtue-signaling industry, and of course the courts would force it to change course. Yet this is what Harvard has been doing openly for 45 years to Americans of Asian heritage, even though, as part of its agreement to take federal grants, the school commits to not discriminating based on race. Now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is calling Harvard out on it.
Liberal elites, such as those who run the Harvard faculty, believe in equal outcomes for their specific protected classes, not equal opportunity and equal application of civil rights laws for everyone. Thus, through affirmative action, they will stop at nothing to distort reality and not only violate the principles of meritocracy but downright make up facts in order to discriminate against classes that are out of favor with them.
In the case of Harvard’s admission standards, the school has openly bragged for years about using race as a factor in admission in order to achieve its convoluted goals of diversity rather than treat all applicants as individuals. The fact that many Americans of Asian heritage tend to score very high academically created an inconvenient reality undermining the desire for an arbitrary racial balance. Thus, the administrators ditched the merit-based academic scores for racial targets that ensured a number of better-qualified Asian-Americans were displaced by less qualified individuals simply because of a target racial balance.
What scheme did they use? The DOJ charges that Harvard used a personal rating in addition to academic scores that included “subjective” factors, such as a “positive personality,” “likability,” and being a “good person” with “human qualities.” DOJ asserts that this progressive elite institution “admits that, on average, it scores Asian-American applicants lower on this ‘personal rating’ than applicants of other races.” The DOJ’s finding is really nothing new, because Harvard’s own internal investigative division found the same thing in a 2013 report. It found that racial balancing resulted in a 140 percent increase in the Hispanic proportion of the class and a 400 percent increase in the African-American proportion of the class. Also, merely being black was the second-strongest factor in admissions, just behind the factor of “strong personal rating,” which in itself was, on average, arbitrarily padded for black students and downgraded for Asians.
Harvard is essentially repeating the overt discrimination in admissions that it employed 100 years ago when administrators grew concerned that too many Jews were being admitted.
Plaintiffs in a recent lawsuit assert that Harvard uses ethnic balancing tools to achieve almost the exact same ethnic makeup every year, creating a floor for African-Americans and a ceiling for Asian-Americans. Every academic year, the racial breakdown is as follows: White – 50-53 percent, Asian-American – 18-20 percent, African-American – 10-12 percent, Hispanic – 10-12 percent, and Native American – 2 percent. According to research provided to the federal court in Massachusetts by plaintiffs, the racial balancing is so skewed that is serves as the dominant factor. “An Asian-American applicant with a 25% chance of admission, for example, would have a 35% chance if he were white, a 75% chance if he were Hispanic, and a 95% chance if he were African American,” wrote lawyers for the students in a June memorandum seeking summary judgement.
Talk about monkeying up the admission standards! This is hard-core racism. To ignore the reality of individuals’ higher scores and to arbitrarily concoct a system whereby they erroneously label Asians as less likable and personable in order to demonstrate they are less qualified is disgraceful. According to the DOJ, given that Harvard accepts millions in federal grant money, this practice violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
On Thursday, Attorney General Sessions announced that because Harvard accepts federal grants, the DOJ filed a statement of interest in the pending lawsuit of a group of Asian-Americans, Students for Fair Admissions, against the school. They assert that the school has shown no need for such racial balancing, has failed to divulge how administrators weigh the racial factors, has failed to explore any racially neutral criteria, has used race as the overarching factor instead of a contributing factor, and has not limited its manipulation to a specific time period, all criteria required by the Supreme Court in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003).
This is yet another welcoming sea change at the DOJ from Sessions. In the past, the department has been used as a tool to actually promote discrimination under the guise of fighting it, by mandating that government or private institutions purposely factor in race over meritocracy. Sessions is doing the opposite in order to follow the true intent of civil rights laws.
Harvard’s egregious slight of Asian-Americans is likely the tip of the iceberg of discriminatory affirmative action throughout higher education institutions. It is quite evident that Sessions desires to systemically reorient the mission of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, and it would not be surprising to see more action taken against other institutions. When asked if we should expect more investigations against other institutions, a spokeswoman for the department said, “As a matter of policy, DOJ does not confirm or deny the existence or nonexistence of investigations.”
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.