A prominent Ivy League institution and a prestigious public university are under fire for applications processes considered to amount to racial discrimination.
Students for Fair Admissions, an Arlingon, Va.-based nonprofit group claiming 20,000 members, is taking Harvard University and the UNC Chapel Hill to federal district court in Massachusetts and North Carolina respectively.
SSFA’s awsuits claim that both institutions have violated the “strict scrutiny” standards set by the Supreme Court in 2013 in Fisher v. University of Texas. Those standards require that schools use “race-neutral” qualifications to make admission decisions before considering racial classifications.
The suit against Harvard claims that the Cambridge, Mass., school specifically “holds Asian Americans to a far higher standard than other students and essentially forces them to compete against each other for admission.”
Court documents filed by SSFA point to an increase in Asian-American applicants that does not correlate with the rate of admissions. It also cites higher scores in standardized tests for admitted Asian-American students compared to the university’s average.
For UNC’s part, the school’s “racial preference for each underrepresented minority student (which equates to a penalty imposed upon white and Asian-American applicants) is so large that race becomes the ‘defining feature of his or her application,’” according to the complaint filed in the Middle District of North Carolina.
SSFA President Edward Blum said that these two cases are the first of “several similar challenges to other competitive colleges,” according to a statement on organization’s website.
After months of discovery, the two sides squared off Friday in court filings asking the judge to rule in their favor ahead of the trial, which is set for October.
• Alex Swoyer contributed to this report
• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at email@example.com.
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