Justice Department Accuses Yale of Racial Discrimination Against Asian Americans and Whites

Yale University

(CN) — Yale University discriminates against Asians and whites in the undergraduate admissions process, the Department of Justice claimed Thursday.

The allegations are the result of a two-year investigation that found that race is the determinative factor in hundreds of admissions decisions each year. It was prompted by a complaint by Asian American organizations.

“There is no such thing as a nice form of race discrimination,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division said in a statement. “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.”

“We are proud of Yale’s admissions practices, and we will not change them on the basis of such a meritless, hasty accusation,” Yale spokeswoman Karen Peart said in a statement. 

“Had the Department fully received and fairly weighed this information, it would have concluded that Yale’s practices absolutely comply with decades of Supreme Court precedent,” she added.

The U.S. Supreme Court has routinely upheld affirmative action for universities, allowing them to consider race as one of several factors in determining who is accepted into the school.

The investigation found that the great majority of Asian American and white applicants have only one-tenth to one-fourth of the likelihood of admission as African American applicants with comparable academic credentials. Yale rejects scores of Asian American and white applicants each year based on their race.

The DOJ found that the Ivy League school uses race at multiple steps of its admissions process, resulting in a multiplied effect of race on an applicant’s likelihood of admission. For example, Yale uses race when it initially rates applicants and does it again at two other steps during the admissions process.

Yale also racially balances its classes, according to the investigation.

The DOJ, in a letter to the university, stated that its “diversity goals are not sufficiently measurable. Our investigation indicates that Yale’s diversity goals appear to be vague, elusory, and amorphous. Yale’s use of race appears to be standardless, and Yale does virtually nothing to cabin, limit, or define its use of race during the Yale College admissions process.”

As a condition of receiving millions of dollars in taxpayer funding, the DOJ said Yale “expressly agrees” to comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance.

Peart said the university has cooperated with the investigation, but the Justice Department did not use all the data given to them about the enrollment process.

“We are dismayed that the DOJ has made its determination before allowing Yale to provide all the information the Department has requested thus far,” Peart said. “Had the Department fully received and fairly weighed this information, it would have concluded that Yale’s practices absolutely comply with decades of Supreme Court precedent.”

The DOJ has demanded that Yale stop using race or national origin in its upcoming 2020-2021 undergraduate admissions cycle. If Yale proposes to consider race or national origin in future admissions cycles, it must submit a plan to the DOJ demonstrating its proposal is narrowly tailored as required by law and that it name a date for the end of race discrimination. 

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