(CN) — Accusing Yale University of bias against white and Asian American students, the organization Students for Fair Admissions filed a federal lawsuit against the school on Thursday.
The student group, which said its membership includes more than 20,000 students and parents, said Yale's policies consider race and ethnicity when determining whether to accept a candidate and are discriminatory.
One plaintiff, an Asian-American applicant, says she wasn't admitted to the school because of its admissions rules.
The applicant “was denied the opportunity to compete for admission to Yale on equal footing with other applicants on the basis of race or ethnicity because of Yale’s discriminatory admissions policies,” alleges the 39-page complaint, filed in federal court in Connecticut.
Starting in the 1970s, Yale enacted rules to balance its admissions to increase enrollment among Black, Hispanic, Indigenous and Asian Americans, the complaint says — but in the late 1980s, the school removed Asian American applicants from the list.
Now, the complaint says, “Yale has intentionally discriminated against Asian-American applicants for admission on the basis of race or ethnicity based on prejudicial and stereotypical assumptions about their qualifications.”
The Students for Fair Admissions is seeking a permanent injunction barring Yale from continuing its admissions policies based on race and ethnicity.
“Students applying to undergraduate and post-graduate programs should be judged on their individual talents, character, academic skills, extra-curricular achievements and socio-economic background but not the color of their skin,” said Edward Blum, president of the student group.
This isn’t the group’s first lawsuit making such accusations against an Ivy League university.
The same day it filed suit against Yale, the student organization asked the Supreme Court to review a similar, long-running suit it brought against Harvard University, which the group lost in federal court in Massachusetts.
"After six and one-half years of litigation, the hundreds of Asian-American students who were unfairly and illegally rejected from Harvard because of their race may soon have this lawsuit reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court,” Blum said in a statement Thursday. “It is our hope that the justices will accept this case and finally end the consideration of race and ethnicity in college admissions."
During the Trump administration, the student group had support from the Department of Justice, which in October 2020 sued Yale itself over admissions processes that consider race and ethnicity as factors, after first sending the school a letter noting it was conducting an investigation.
Yale’s “diversity goals are not sufficiently measurable,” said the letter, sent in August 2020. “Our investigation indicates that Yale’s diversity goals appear to be vague, elusory, and amorphous.”
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden’s DOJ said it would not pursue the case.
The new filing by the Students for Fair Admissions “resurrects the misleading statistics, factual errors, and legal misstatements that the Trump administration included in its suit,” a Yale representative said.
Practices at Yale look at “the whole person” when determining whether or not to accept an applicant, the school said.
“Yale remains fully committed to assembling an excellent and diverse student body.”
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