BOSTON (CN) – Harvard University’s own admissions expert testified Tuesday that any impact race has on prospective Asian-American students’ chances of getting accepted is negligible, as the Ivy League school begins presenting its defense in an affirmative action trial.
David Card, an economist from the University of California-Berkeley, took the stand on behalf of Harvard and argued that due to the high caliber of Harvard applicants, the school needs factors other than academic success to compare students.
More students apply with perfect GPAs or SAT scores than the roughly 2,000 that Harvard accepts each year, according to Card.
Card argued that there was no statistical evidence that Harvard admissions are biased against Asian-American students.
Last week, Duke University professor Peter Arcidiacono testified on behalf of plaintiff Students for Fair Admissions about his analysis of Harvard admission rates, which he performed on behalf of SFFA.
Arcidiacono’s analysis showed a bias against Asian-Americans, but his study did not include applicants with advantages due to athletics, being a legacy, being on Harvard’s dean’s list or being related to a Harvard employee.
Card furthered Harvard’s argument that race is only considered when two otherwise equal applicants need another factor to tip one favorably over the other.
“It’s not appropriate to think of it as discrimination against people who don’t play the cello like Yo-Yo Ma, just because Yo-Yo Ma is so accomplished,” he said Tuesday.
Card’s testimony marked the 12 day of the bench trial, which comes four years after SFFA filed suit against Harvard, claiming that the use of race in its admissions process unfairly prevented more students of Asian descent from being accepted.
In response, Harvard has argued that it considers numerous factors including academics, race and socio-economic status, and that excluding any consideration for race would benefit white students and diminish acceptance rates of Hispanic and black students.
Harvard is expected to spend the rest of the week shoring up its case, with closing statements from both sides starting Friday.
U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs is presiding over the trial.
The Justice Department filed a statement of interest in the case in August, urging the judge to side with the Asian-American students.
But the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed an amicus brief in support of Harvard, said at the time that the Trump administration was trying “to dismantle progress in racial equity” after reversing Obama-era guidance on affirmative action.