Asian-American groups seek probe into Ivy League admissions

May 24, 2016 09:40
The complaint says Yale University and two other Ivy League institutions apply a different set of admissions criteria to Asian-American applicants. Photo: Yale University

A coalition of Asian-American organizations has asked the US Department of Education to investigate Brown University, Dartmouth College and Yale University, alleging discrimination during the admissions process.

While the population of college-age Asian-Americans has doubled in 20 years and the number of highly qualified Asian-American students “has increased dramatically”, the percentage accepted at most Ivy League colleges has flatlined, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing the complaint, filed Monday.

It alleges this is because of “racial quotas and caps, maintained by racially differentiated standards for admissions that severely burden Asian-American applicants”.

The colleges named in the complaint all said they used a holistic approach and evaluated each applicant individually in an effort to build a diverse class.

The complaint is the latest in a long line against selective colleges on behalf of Asian-American applicants, but the Education Department has never found that schools are deliberately discriminating against members of that group.

Last year the department dismissed a complaint against Harvard University, deferring to the much-anticipated Supreme Court ruling on the race-conscious undergraduate admission policy at the University of Texas at Austin.

Oral arguments for that case were heard in December.

The complaint filed Monday by the Asian-American Coalition for Education, which consists of more than 100 organizations, makes many of the same points as the previous complaint against Harvard.

It charges that the number of Asian-Americans at the three schools is capped and a special “just-for-Asians admissions standard” is in place.

Admissions officers “often treat Asian-American applicants as a monolithic block rather than as individuals, and denigrate these applicants as lacking in creativity/critical thinking and leadership skills/risk taking.”

After the Department of Education started investigating Harvard in 1988, its admission rate of Asian-Americans jumped to 16.1 percent in 1991 from 10.8 percent.

After students filed a complaint against Princeton in 2006, its admission rate increased to 25.4 percent in 2014 from 14.7 percent in 2007.

-- Contact us at [email protected]