Department of Justice says Yale discriminates against whites and Asians

Cheryl Sanders
August 14, 2020

Students walk on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, October 7, 2009.

"The Department of Justice today notified Yale University of its findings that Yale illegally discriminates against Asian American and white applicants in its undergraduate admissions process in violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act", the statement said.

The Justice Department said although race could lawfully be considered in college admissions in limited circumstances, "Yale's use of race is anything but limited".

It directed Yale to suspend the consideration of race or national origin in its admissions process for one year, at which time, the university would need to seek clearance from the government to begin using race as a factor again, the department said.

The Supreme Court has ruled that colleges that receive federal funds can consider an applicants' race, along with other factors, but Yale's use of race "is anything but limited," the DOJ said.

Yale has responded to the Justice Department by calling their conclusion "meritless".

The findings are the result of a two-year investigation in response to a complaint by Asian American groups and are in violation of U.S. civil rights law, the department said.

Yale quickly said it "categorically denies this allegation" and indicated its readiness to defend itself in court.

"For the great majority of applicants, Asian Americans and whites have only one-tenth to one-fourth of the likelihood of admission as African American applicants with comparable academic credentials", the department said.

The letter blasted Yale, located in CT, saying that "unlawfully dividing Americans into racial and ethnic blocs fosters stereotypes, bitterness, and division". "It is past time for American institutions to recognize that all people should be treated with decency and respect and without unlawful regard to the color of their skin". It argued that Harvard's admissions process amounted to an illegal quota system, that classes were racially balanced, and that Harvard favored Black and Hispanic applicants at the expense of Asian Americans, who were held to a higher standard.

"At Yale, we look at the whole person when selecting whom to admit among the many thousands of highly qualified applicants", the university said.

Yale said that it has been complying with the DOJ's investigation and had not yet provided all the information the department had requested. The only way they can weigh those factors is if they submit a proposal to the Justice Department first showing that it is "narrowly tailored as required by law, including by identifying a date for the end of race discrimination".

The Justice Department's action comes about a month before arguments are set to be heard in the appeal of the case challenging Harvard's admissions practices.

Harvard won the case in district court, with a judge finding that the university had not intentionally discriminated against Asian Americans.

The Justice Department has previously filed legal briefs in support of a lawsuit, brought by affirmative action opponents, accusing Harvard University of discriminating against Asian Americans.

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