Posted on May 18, 2015

Groups File Federal Complaint Alleging Discrimination in Harvard Admissions Process

Meg Bernhard and Noah Delwiche, Harvard Crimson, May 16, 2015

Sixty-four Asian-American groups filed a complaint against Harvard on Friday with the federal Departments of Education and Justice calling for an investigation into what they charge is the College’s “unlawful use of race” in its admissions process to discriminate against Asian-American applicants.

The complaint alleges that Harvard,  as well as other Ivy League colleges, deny Asian-American applicants with “almost perfect” SAT scores, “top 1% GPAs,” and “significant awards or leadership positions” in extracurricular activities, while similar applicants of other races have been admitted.

The complaint comes just months after the group Students for Fair Admissions, Inc., filed a similar lawsuit against Harvard alleging that its undergraduate admissions processes  “have injured and continue to injure” the student plaintiffs “by intentionally and improperly discriminating against them on the basis of their race and ethnicity in violation of Title VI.”


This year, Asian-Americans comprise more than 21 percent of the incoming freshman class.

To build its case, the new complaint frequently cites external research by national experts, including Thomas J. Espenshade, a sociologist at Princeton and co-author of “No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life.”