Yes, Harvard Dean of Admissions William Fitzsimmons testified this week, the school does maintain different SAT score standards for applicants based on their race and sex. But, the dean was quick to clarify, the practice is not discriminatory.
So began the trial that could determine once and for all the fate of affirmative action. The action was brought by Students for Fair Admissions, a group representing Asian-American applicants that claims that Harvard violated their civil rights by penalizing them for their race.
From The Washington Post:
Attorney Adam K. Mortara, representing the plaintiff, homed in repeatedly on statistical analyses that he said show Harvard gives Asian Americans significantly lower ratings for subjective personal qualities, including leadership and compassion, than applicants from other racial groups. That rating, he said, is often crucial to the outcome.
Apart from defending Dean Fitzsimmons’s curious conundrum, Harvard’s legal team, headed up by William F. Lee, will be facing an uphill battle as the trial presses forward. Among the evidence likely to be introduced that suggests a bias is a study published in September by Harvard education professor Natasha Warikoo, which posits that merit-based admissions “reproduce inequality.”
When it comes to SAT scores, Harvard’s discriminatory practices again Asian Americans may be more insidious than the Post reports. In 2015, the Los Angeles Times cited statistics provided by Ann Lee, a college preparatory business that operates on the assumption that “racial bias is a fact of college admissions and counsels students accordingly.”
According to Lee, African Americans across the board receive a “bonus” of 230 points, while Hispanics are spotted 185 points. At the same Asian Americans are penalized by 50 points.
“Do Asians need higher test scores? Is it harder for Asians to get into college?” Lee was asked. The answer she provided was a simple yes.”
The article further acknowledged that “complaints about bias in college admissions have persisted since at least the 1920s, when a Harvard University president tried to cap the number of Jewish students.”
Does Harvard currently discriminate against white applicants? If they subscribe to the SAT bonuses for blacks and Hispanics described above, the answer is obviously yes.