Harvard University Asian-American Discrimination Case Begins


Harvard University lowers its recruiting standards a bit for many students from rural regions, but not for Asian- Americans, to have diversity at its campus, the prestigious University's dean of admissions has testified in federal court as he defended the school's race-based admissions.

The dean, William Fitzsimmons, was the first witness to take the stand in a trial on Monday over whether Harvard discriminates against Asian-American applicants in violation of civil rights law. Fitzsimmons, the longtime dean of the Harvard University since 1986, defended the admission policy of the university. He argued that the school lowers the admission standards a bit for many students from rural region, if they are not Asian Americans. This is to have diversity, he said.

Harvard attorney Bill Lee told the court without weighing a student's race, the university campus would either become much less diverse or less academically excellent. During the ongoing trial, Harvard University defended its holistic admissions process in which it considers race as one of many factors. "People invited to apply from sparse country are 'unknown', 'other' and 'white', correct? John Hughes, a lawyer for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit," asked Fitzsimmons.

"Yes," said the dean, who has been in charge of Harvard admissions since 1986. Asians are not included in that list? Hughes asked. "Not in that particular list," Fitzsimmons replied. The plaintiffs say that the university holds Asian-American applicants to a higher standard than people of other races, and that it resorts to racial balancing to shape its incoming classes.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has opposed the lawsuit and supported Harvard's effort to have diversity in the campus. "This case is not about educational equity or protecting the educational interests of a particular racial or ethnic group. It is instead just the latest attempt to advance the misguided arguments for race blindness, recycling the tired myth of a post-racial America. If you cannot acknowledge someone's race, you risk not acknowledging them," said Dennis Parker from ACLU's racial justice program.

The number of Asian-American students at Harvard has remained at 20 per cent for years, while the number of those applicants from this segment of the society has increased significantly.

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