Harvard and UNC Sued over Their Admission Policies

Philip Marcelo, AP, November 17, 2014

Lawsuits filed Monday against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill argue that affirmative action policies should be banned at colleges across the nation.

The federal suits allege Harvard and UNC rely on race-based affirmative action policies that impact admissions of high-achieving white and Asian American students. The Harvard lawsuit also contends that the Ivy League university specifically limits the number of Asian Americans it admits each year.

The Project on Fair Representation, an Alexandria, Virginia-based legal defense fund, said Monday’s filings will be the first in a series of legal challenges against colleges across the country in an effort to ban race-based admission policies outright.

“Allowing this issue to be litigated in case after case will only perpetuate the hostilities that proper consideration of race is designed to avoid,” state the lawsuits, both of which cite “Students for Fair Admissions” as plaintiff, a nonprofit group based in Austin, Texas made up of recently rejected applicants, prospective students and parents. “Racial preferences are a dangerous tool and may only be used as a last resort.”

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“Statistical evidence reveals that Harvard uses ‘holistic’ admissions to disguise the fact that it holds Asian Americans to a far higher standard than other students and essentially forces them to compete against each other for admission,” the lawsuit argues.

The lawsuit goes on to allege that Harvard is engaging in “racial balancing,” enrolling the “essentially the same percentage” of African Americans, Hispanics, whites, and Asian Americans year after year, even though the application rates and qualifications for each racial group have undergone significant changes over time.

“Harvard’s remarkably stable admissions and enrollment figures over time are the deliberate result of system wide intentional racial discrimination designed to achieve a predetermined racial balance of its student body,” the lawsuit states.

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Elite schools should also stop giving preference to so-called “legacy” students and offering early admission deadlines, both of which tend to hurt low income and minority applicants and favor wealthy and white ones, the lawsuits suggests.

The Project on Fair Representation is affiliated with Project Liberty Inc., a nonprofit organization focused on “free market and liberty oriented solutions to society’s most pervasive and radial needs,” according to its IRS filings.

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