Harvard University heading to trial for case of alleged discrimination

Harvard University heading to trial for case of alleged discrimination

In its hour-long opening, lawyers for Students for Fair Admissions accused Harvard of intentionally discriminating against Asian-Americans through a personal rating score that measures character traits such as "courage" and "likeability".

Both sides will present their cases to U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs starting Monday.

Harvard University is set to face trial on Monday over accusations that it discriminates against Asian-American applicants in a closely watched lawsuit that could influence the use of race as a factor in college admissions decisions.

Harvard's lead attorney, William F. Lee, denied that the university discriminates against Asian Americans or any other demographic group. One reason this is the case is that many see this case as one that could potentially impact affirmative action policies at other schools.

Their defense partly relies on an analysis by David Card, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who found no evidence of discrimination in Harvard's admissions records.

The Justice Department has also launched a probe into whether Yale University discriminates against Asians - something which is denies.

The last time the high court ruled on affirmative action in admissions, in 2016, it narrowly upheld a race-conscious policy at the University of Texas.

The U.S. Justice Department, which launched a related probe of Harvard after Republican President Donald Trump took office a year ago, has backed SFFA's case, saying Harvard has not seriously considered alternative, race-neutral approaches to admissions. If race does play a role with a given student, he said, it is "always considered in a positive light".

Mugs bearing the school's logo are displayed for sale outside Harvard University in Cambridge Massachusetts U.S

Diep, who is studying neurobiology, believes that while his test scores could have been higher, his experience overcoming language and cultural barriers as a young Vietnamese immigrant in the San Fernando Valley helped him get into Harvard. Yet Mortara argued Monday the lawsuit is not a broader attack on affirmative action, saying Harvard has simply gone too far in its "zeal" to consider race.

The Justice Department revoked a number of documents, including Obama administration memos encouraging schools to take race into account for admissions and enrollment decisions to foster diversity.

The trial in a USA federal court in Boston pits the Ivy League school against Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), whose 2014 lawsuit challenges the use of race as a factor in college admissions decisions.

Some details emerging from the trial could cast Harvard in a positive light, explaining the many layers of review it gives to more than 40,000 files a year before making almost 2,000 admission offers. The admissions dean said the emphasis on certain minority students across the country and white students in America's less populated regions represented efforts "to break the cycle" and persuade students who normally would not think about applying to Harvard to consider the Cambridge campus. The Harvard lawsuit is based on Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination at private institutions that receive federal funds.

The lawsuit has resonated with Asian-Americans like Benjamin Yu, president of The Orange Club, an Orange County political group comprised of conservative Chinese-Americans.

Harvard disputes the claim and says race is only one small factor in their secretive student selections process. The recent arrival of Kennedy's replacement, Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, strengthened the court's conservative majority and could signal a new approach if it revisits the issue.

"We've been very careful to make sure that any legal scrutiny brought against us will be something that we can hold our heads up and say we're entirely consistent with the law, so am I anxious about the resolution of those cases?"

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