Affirmative Action Lawsuit

Sarah Liu, Writer

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As college admissions are looming for high school seniors, a lawsuit against Harvard University has the nation’s attention, bringing to light the allegations of discrimination against Asian American applicants. The lawsuit, filed in 2014, is being spearheaded by conservative activist Edward Blum, who notably prosecuted the University of Texas at Austin and lost over the rejection of Abigail Fisher, a student who believed she was denied admission over her being Caucasian.
The organization Students for Fair Admissions is accusing Harvard of setting a specific quota on Asian American students, allowing other minority groups to be favored over them.
However, Harvard has vehemently defended its admissions process, which describes being “racially conscious” as a pillar of their holistic admissions, where race plays a role in admissions in addition to other factors, such as socioeconomic status.
“I think it is one of the most important cases about education that we have seen in years,” history teacher Louis Harley said. “To me, the interesting part of the case is, in America, should we reserve spots for people who maybe are not as academically strong, but have a different experience.”
While the lawsuit is only against Harvard, the outcome of the lawsuit is said to have an impact far greater than just affecting the prestigious university, as many are expecting the lawsuit to change the college admissions landscape, possibly affecting affirmative action policies.
The lawsuit has put two impassioned sides in the limelight. Siding with Harvard is 16 other colleges and universities, which include the rest of the Ivy League, as well as elite schools such as Stanford University, who jointly said that the effects of the lawsuit would be detrimental to the diversity of their schools. For Asian American students at PVHS, the lawsuit has sparked a conversation on race and admissions.
“It is not necessarily the fact that we [feel] discriminated [against], but some feel that Asians are punished because of their race and are not given the same opportunities,” senior and Harvard applicant Faith Kim said.
“On the other hand, some argue that it is just that the Asian population is so competitive, so the Asian community is more qualified in general, and that is why so many qualified Asians get rejected in the first place.
“I do not necessarily think Harvard is intentionally discriminating against Asians, but I do believe that there needs to be a change in their admission process,” Kim said.

“With minority rights and liberties growing as a social issue, I think it is is the court’s best interest to vote towards the Asian community, but they should vote based on the evidence provided and what they believe best for the university and the greater student community.”

Through the trial, new information on the Harvard admissions has come to light. In Harvard’s internal reports, it was revealed that the standard PSAT score was higher for Asian Americans to receive an invitation to apply to the school, compared to other groups. Harvard’s reasoning behind this is to reach a base of students that would not traditionally apply to Harvard. In addition, Asian American applicants receive lower personality scores. Another topic of debate has been the way that Harvard favors the relatives of alumni and donors to the school.

In the admitted class of 2021, 29 percent of the admitted class were legacy students, which Harvard says is vital to their “well-being” as a school. However, the school has gradually admitted more and more Asian American students into the school, with 22.9 percent of the incoming 2022 class being Asian American.

“If you took just the raw numbers, took away anybody’s identity, most colleges would be filled by a racial group that makes up only four percent of America, which is Asians,” Harley said.

“I think there is a middle ground. I think [colleges] really should look at the best students, and reserve some spots for students with a different life experience, but I think it’s unfair to just throw out thousands of super-qualified kids because they happen to be Asian.”

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Affirmative Action Lawsuit