Published: Wed, November 22, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Harvard accused of ducking, dodging affirmative action complaint

Harvard accused of ducking, dodging affirmative action complaint

If so, it could file a parallel complaint, suggesting that Harvard's policies amount to intentional discrimination, or it could file a more aggressive complaint, arguing that Harvard's policies have a "disparate impact" on Asian applicants.

In response, Mr. Waxman has raised questions about the Civil Rights Division's authority to pursue the investigation and proposed various limits on how government officials may gain access to the records, citing the privacy of applicants and concerns that the materials might become public.

The Justice Department is weighing whether to file a friend-of-the-court brief in the Students for Fair Admissions lawsuit or whether to file its own lawsuit. Last year, the US Supreme Court ruled that race can be one among many factors universities use in making admission decisions.

The Justice Department's interest in Harvard's policies stems from a 2015 federal complaint that accuses the school of discriminating against Asian-Americans in admissions.

An attorney within the DOJ's Civil Rights Division sent a November 17 letter to a lawyer representing the university to tell him the school did not turn over the proper documents as requested by the original November 2 deadline; the letter also mentions the school is being investigated under the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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A document in the probe obtained by the Wall Street Journal claims that Harvard failed to comply with a November 2 deadline to provide information regarding their admissions practices.

Harvard disputes that its admissions policy violates United States law.

The school said earlier this year that just over half of the freshmen admitted in 2017 were women, more than one in five was Asian and nearly 15 percent African-American.

In 2014, a nonprofit called Students for Fair Admissions claimed in a lawsuit that Harvard intentionally discriminates against Asian-Americans by limiting the number of Asian students it admits.

"The university will certainly comply with its obligations under Title VI", Harvard spokeswoman Anna Cowenhoven said in a statement on Tuesday.

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"The Department of Justice takes seriously any potential violation of an individual's civil and constitutional rights, but we will not comment at this time", spokesman Devin O'Malley said in an email.

Affirmative action truly has no place in the university systems of today.

"Harvard's Asian quotas, and the overall racial balancing that follows, have been ignored by our federal agencies for too long".

In a statement to BBC News, the group said that the DoJ's reported formal investigation was a "welcome development". She said it was also unusual for the Justice Department to conduct a "parallel investigation" when a federal suit is pending on a similar set of allegations.

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