Harvard Sued for Asian Quotas in Admissions

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Re: Harvard Sued for Asian Quotas in Admissions

Post by pianoman »

So the Duke economist Peter Arcidiacono who was hired as an expert witness to sort through the data Harvard was forced to hand over in the Asian discrimination case has written a separate analysis of the effects of legacy on Harvard admissions: http://public.econ.duke.edu/~psarcidi/legacyathlete.pdf

I have not read the full report, but many of the key points were reported on in the press:
https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/09/ ... -disgrace/
Harvard’s ‘Legacy’ Preferences Are a National Disgrace
September 23, 2019 6:30 AM

. . .

The authors’ data cover the classes that applied in the autumns of 2009 through 2014 and are limited to applicants from within the U.S. By my math (based on their table 2), “LDCs” — legacies whose parents also went to Harvard; those on the dean’s list, often thanks to donations by relatives; and children of faculty and staff — were about a fifth of the students Harvard admitted during this time. Recruited athletes were another tenth. As the authors note, while it’s hardly identified with jock culture in the public imagination, Harvard for some reason fields 42 Division I sports teams.

. . .
In the authors’ estimation, most athletes and LDCs (together, “ALDCs”) at Harvard would not have gotten in based on their other credentials. Combining some more of their numbers (from table 10), I find that about 70 percent would not have made it. Paired with the fact that about 30 percent of students admitted to Harvard are ALDCs, this suggests that roughly a fifth of Harvard undergrads are there because of who their relatives are, or because they’re good at sports.

. . .
In other words, ALDC preferences are largely an affirmative-action program for certain privileged subsets of white people. One is almost tempted by the idea that Harvard’s preferences for underrepresented minorities might be justified simply to level the scales a bit.

But the numbers don’t really support that argument. The fact that a third of white Harvard students get in via ALDC preferences doesn’t mean a third of whites are occupying spaces that would otherwise go to the underrepresented minority groups that receive racial preferences. Without preferences, many white legacies would be replaced by white non-legacies — or by Asians, the overrepresented minority at the heart of the aforementioned lawsuit.

Indeed, as this table shows, the number of white admissions would fall by just 4 percent without legacy preferences and 6 percent without athlete preferences. (Though it would fall more if both were eliminated at once, of course, and unfortunately this leaves out the smaller D and C categories in ALDC.) In both scenarios, the largest number of abandoned seats go to Asians.


The final row of the table also shows us what happens if legacy, athlete, and racial preferences are removed. In that case, whites actually receive 3 percent more Harvard slots than they do currently, because in today’s system they lose more from racial preferences than they gain from the others. Asian admissions rise more than 50 percent.

. . .

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Re: Harvard Sued for Asian Quotas in Admissions

Post by pianoman »

The federal judge in the case, Allison D. Burroughs (a 2014 Obama appointee), has "decided" the case in favor of the defendant in a ruling so partisan it is almost laughable. Large sections of this decision could literally have been written before the trial even began. Burroughs spends much of the decision justifying Harvard's "diversity" rationale instead of comparing evidence with the law. This woman spent a year pretending to do work.

Good thing her decision is completely meaningless. Can't wait for the Supreme Court ruling on this. If anything, Burroughs' home-cooked refereeing should make the appeal process easier:

https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/01/politics ... index.html
Federal judge upholds Harvard's admissions process in affirmative action case
By Joan Biskupic, CNN

Updated 5:50 PM ET, Tue October 1, 2019

A US district judge in Boston has upheld Harvard's admissions process following a challenge from a group representing Asian American applicants who believe the school discriminated against them.

Judge Allison Burroughs ruled Tuesday that while Harvard's admissions process is "not perfect," she would not "dismantle a very fine admissions program that passes constitutional muster, solely because it could do better."

In her 130-page opinion, Burroughs stressed that race-conscious admissions hold "an important place in society and help ensure that colleges and universities can offer a diverse atmosphere that fosters learning, improves scholarship, and encourages mutual respect and understanding."

The ruling in the closely watched case is likely to be appealed and culminate in a national showdown over affirmative action at the US Supreme Court.

The challengers had argued at trial that as Harvard's "personal" rating system disfavors Asian Americans, it favors blacks and Hispanics, who generally have lower standardized test scores compared with Asian Americans.

The Harvard ruling comes as college admissions practices are being scrutinized nationwide, including by federal prosecutors who allege that celebrity and other wealthy parents paid off coaches and education administrators to falsify student records to help them win acceptance at elite schools. The Harvard dispute centers on a wholly different but nonetheless longstanding point of contention: how institutions use students' race to boost the chances of traditionally disadvantaged applicants and enhance diversity on campus.

Affirmative action challenge

William Lee, the Washington lawyer who represented Harvard, said in a statement that the decision "represents a significant victory not merely for Harvard, but also for all schools and students, for diversity, and for the rule of law. As the court has recognized, now is not the time to turn back the clock on diversity and opportunity."

Harvard President Lawrence Bacow added, "The consideration of race, alongside many other factors, helps us achieve our goal of creating a diverse student body that enriches the education of every student."

Edward Blum, a conservative lawyer who had engineered the challenge filed in 2014, said his group, Students for Fair Admissions, would appeal to decision for the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals.

"We believe that the documents, emails, data analysis and depositions SFFA presented at trial compellingly revealed Harvard's systematic discrimination against Asian American applicants," Blum said in a statement.

Blum has long opposed racial policies that have primarily benefitted blacks and Hispanics. In the past, Blum had sought white students to challenge affirmative action. In 2016, such a case he engineered against affirmative action at the University of Texas at Austin lost narrowly at the Supreme Court.

The Harvard lawsuit was brought under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits race discrimination at schools that receive federal funds. Filed on behalf of Asian Americans but without any named individuals alleging bias, the case has accelerated simmering complaints from students of Asian heritage that their numbers at Ivy League institutions are capped, just as Jewish students faced quotas on elite campuses in the last century.

At its broadest, Blum crafted the case to challenge a 1978 Supreme Court precedent that first upheld campus affirmative action, permitting universities to consider the race of an applicant among many factors, toward the goal of greater campus diversity, and forbidding racial quotas in admissions. Regents of the University of California v. Bakke was decided by a 5-4 vote and has been affirmed by narrow splits through the years. It now appears a possible target of reversal at a Supreme Court that has grown more conservative and in recent years and overturned a handful of liberal precedents from the 1970s.

Burroughs found that "Harvard's admission program passes constitutional muster in that it satisfies the dictates of strict scrutiny."

"The students who are admitted to Harvard and choose to attend will live and learn surrounded by all sorts of people, with all sorts of experiences, beliefs and talents" she wrote. "They will have the opportunity to know and understand one another beyond race, as whole individuals with unique histories and experiences. It is this, at Harvard and elsewhere that will move us, one day, to the point where we see that race is a fact, but not the defining fact and not the fact that tells us what is important, but we are not there yet."

An appeal of Burroughs' ruling would go first to the 1st Circuit, before any battle over race at the reconstituted Supreme Court, with two new appointees of President Donald Trump. Justice Anthony Kennedy cast the deciding vote in the University of Texas case. He was succeeded last year by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, whose record is more conservative than Kennedy's.

The Trump administration submitted a "statement of interest" in the Harvard case, siding with the SFFA challengers and noting that the administration was investigating Harvard's screening processes after complaints to the Department of Education from more than 60 Asian American groups. The Obama administration had fielded and rejected similar complaints.

'Personal' ratings

Given the escalating competition in college admissions nationally, the trial drew an overflow crowd to Burroughs' courtroom. The three-week hearing ended on November 2, 2018, and separate closing arguments were held on February 13, 2019.

During those hearings, the challengers argued that based on data they had obtained from Harvard, that admissions officials engaged in stereotypes that discriminated unlawfully against Asian American applicants, including stereotyping students of Asian descent as "book-smart" and "not personable."

Students for Fair Admissions asserted four claims under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act: that Harvard unlawfully holds Asian Americans to a higher standard than students of other races; that it engages in racial balancing to keep roughly the same percentages of racial groups; that it uses race not as a single "plus factor" but as a defining characteristic for admission; and, finally, that Harvard bypassed race-neutral options that for campus diversity, such as tied to students' socioeconomic backgrounds.

Harvard lawyers countered that any claims that Asian Americans fared poorly on "personal" scores arose from SFFA's selective mining of data that failed to include the full pool of applicants, among them favored children of alumni, faculty and staff, and accomplished athletes.

The percentage of Asian American students accepted at Harvard has steadily increased in recent years. Harvard reports that of those students entering this fall as the class of 2023, Asian Americans make up 25.6%, African Americans 13.1% Hispanics 11.8% and Native Americans and Native Hawaiians 2.2%. The remaining category, 47%, covers mostly white students.

Each year Harvard accepts about 2,000 students, then ends up with a freshman class of about 1,600 students who choose to attend, from a pool of about 40,000 applicants annually. Harvard lawyers argued that if racial affirmative action were disallowed, the number of African American and Hispanic students in the total student body of 6,700 would fall by roughly 1,000.

In her ruling, Burroughs rejected the arguments that Harvard could obtain sufficient diversity by looking at non-racial criteria, such as a family's economic status.

"Harvard has demonstrated," she concluded, "that there are no workable and available race-neutral alternatives, singly or taken in combination, that would allow it to achieve an adequately diverse student body while still perpetuating its standards for academic and other measures of excellence."

No expert on either side of the case, Burroughs wrote, had proposed an alternative that would allow Harvard to "meet its diversity goals while not unduly compromising on its other legitimate institutional objectives."

Regarding the Asian American "personal" ratings, Burroughs said she saw "no evidence of discrimination" beyond a "slight numerical disparity."

"The statistical disparity is relatively minor," she wrote, "and can be at least partially explained by a variety of factors" including information derived from teacher and guidance counselor recommendations.

"Even if there is an unwarranted disparity in the personal ratings, the court is unable to identify any individual applicant whose admissions decision was affected and finds that the disparity in the personal ratings did not burden Asian American applicants significantly more than Harvard's race-conscious policies burdened white applicants," the judge wrote. "Further, there is no evidence of any discriminatory animus or conscious prejudice.

But Burroughs was not without some criticism for Harvard, suggesting some changes in its admissions office.
"The process would likely benefit from conducting implicit bias trainings for admissions officers, maintaining clear guidelines on the use of race in the admissions process, which were developed during this litigation, and monitoring and making admissions officers aware of any significant race-related statistical disparities in the rating process," she wrote.

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Re: Harvard Sued for Asian Quotas in Admissions

Post by pianoman »

Here we go. The federal court ruling has been appealed:

https://www.thecrimson.com/article/2020 ... eal-brief/
Students for Fair Admissions Files Appeal Brief in Harvard Admissions Case

By Benjamin L. Fu and Dohyun Kim, Crimson Staff Writers
February 19, 2020

Anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions filed its opening appellate brief in federal court Tuesday as part of a longstanding lawsuit pending against Harvard over allegations that the College discriminates against Asian Americans in its admissions process.

SFFA argued throughout its brief that a previous district court ruling against it was incorrect and that the appeals court should reverse the decision. The group’s lawyers argued that the district court failed to apply strict scrutiny and failed to appropriately consider evidence of the alleged discrimination.

SFFA’s filing comes roughly four months after district court judge Allison D. Burroughs issued her final ruling at the conclusion of a five-year-long phase of the lawsuit. Her Oct. 2 ruling rejected SFFA’s arguments that the College’s race-conscious admissions policies are discriminatory toward Asian American applicants.

Three days after Burroughs published her opinion, SFFA filed a notice of appeal in the United States First Circuit Court of Appeals, marking the organization’s intent to challenge Burroughs’s ruling.

SFFA’s Tuesday brief reiterates previous arguments that Harvard penalizes Asian American students in the admissions process, practices “racial balancing” when selecting each incoming class, weights race too heavily in considering students’ applications, and has failed to sufficiently explore alternative race-neutral processes.

Harvard has repeatedly denied allegations that its admissions process is discriminatory, and has argued that it considers race as one factor among many in a “holistic” admissions process.

Harvard spokesperson Rachael Dane defended the College’s inclusion of race as a factor in admissions in an emailed statement Tuesday.

“We will vigorously defend the Court’s decision, which makes clear that Harvard does not discriminate on the basis of race in its admissions process, and that Harvard’s pursuit of a diverse student body is central to its educational mission and consistent with longstanding Supreme Court precedent,” Dane wrote. “Today’s filing by Students for Fair Admissions further exposes their ultimate goal of removing the consideration of race in college and university admissions.”

SFFA president Edward J. Blum wrote an emailed statement that the organization hopes the appeals process will ultimately reverse the district court ruling.

“It is our hope the First Circuit Court of Appeals will reverse the lower court’s erroneous opinion and compel Harvard to end the use of race in their admissions policies,” Blum wrote.

In one of the Tuesday brief’s arguments, SFFA’s lawyers highlighted their belief that the court erred in applying strict scrutiny. Burroughs accepted Harvard’s arguments, despite the fact that, according to SFFA, Harvard failed to prove that it does not discriminate.

“This analysis is irreconcilable with strict scrutiny,” the appellate brief reads. “Given the serious doubts that the district court harbored, Harvard by definition has not ‘offered sufficient evidence that would prove that its admissions program is narrowly tailored to obtain the educational benefits of diversity.’ The case should have ended there.”

SFFA’s lawyers also contested that Burroughs failed to fully appreciate statistical evidence, evidence related to subjective standards for “personal ratings” in admissions, and internal Harvard communications about concerns over possible discrimination.

The brief’s conclusion is straightforward, reading, “The district court’s judgment should be reversed.”

SFFA’s filing marks just the latest move in a protracted legal battle that has brought national attention on to Harvard’s admissions policies. Documents released throughout the case have revealed previously confidential details about the admissions process, such as how the College considers applications from athletes and relatives of major donors.

Harvard is scheduled to issue its reply brief within 30 days. SFFA will then have three weeks to publish another response to Harvard’s brief.
And the Justice Department has backed the appeal:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/educatio ... ts-wrapper
The Trump administration is arguing that Harvard University discriminates unlawfully against Asian Americans when choosing an undergraduate class, siding this week with a group that challenged the Ivy League school’s admissions process through a lawsuit pending in a federal appellate court.
On Monday, the Justice Department filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit that laid out two arguments for overturning the Burroughs decision.

First, the department claimed Harvard uses “racial balancing” to assemble incoming classes that have a “remarkably stable” racial and ethnic composition year after year. This amounts to “a system of de facto quotas” forbidden under Supreme Court precedents, the department contended.

Second, the department claimed that Harvard’s internal review of applications imposes “a racial penalty by systematically disfavoring Asian-American applicants.”

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Re: Harvard Sued for Asian Quotas in Admissions

Post by pianoman »

The celebrated psychologist, YouTube sensation, and former Harvard professor Jordan Peterson weighed in on the Harvard lawsuit a year ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sv_BcV6yfyU

Peterson very quickly arrives at the core of the matter: that standardized testing and other observable metrics can only be replaced by methods of evaluation that are more biased, and that what is going on at Harvard and other universities regarding Asian applicants is a form of prejudice.

But I have to post about the effort in California to repeal Prop 209 that outlaws affirmative action in state institutions. Prop 209 was passed in 1996 and has survived many legal challenges as well as at least one attempt at legislative revision. Prop 209 is the reason the UC system has such a large proportion of Asian students, especially at the flagship campuses. It should be noted, however, that interest groups in the UC system have been looking for backdoors ever since it passed, as was detailed in this NYT article from 2007.

Apparently, the entire composition of the the UC regents changed when nobody was looking. The proposal will be on the ballot in California for the 2020 presidential election, which means it has a fairly good chance of passing since turnout will be high and California is a solid blue state. It is a pity that the Asian diaspora has to fight this battle over and over again, when in reality the anti-affirmative action, egalitarian spirit of Prop 209 should by now have been imposed on private institutions in California like Stanford and the University of Southern California.

https://www.latimes.com/california/stor ... ive-action
Plan to restore affirmative action in California clears hurdle after emotional debate

JUNE 15, 2020

UC campuses also revised their admissions review process from one that heavily relied on grades and test scores to a comprehensive evaluation that considers 14 factors, looking at how students perform academically given the opportunities in their schools and neighborhoods.

In addition, UC campuses increased outreach to underserved communities. UCLA, for instance, works with 20 Los Angeles Unified high schools and several Black churches in the Inland Empire to scout promising students and keep them on track. The strategy, spearheaded by Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, UCLA vice provost of enrollment management, has helped the campus increase the proportion of resident Black students admitted as freshmen from 3.7% in 2012 to 6.3% in 2019.

The measures have produced some progress. The share of admission offers to California freshmen who are Black increased from 4.3% in fall 2010 to 4.7% in 2019, while the Latino share grew from 22.9% to 34.3% during the same period. Asian Americans also increased from 33.9% to 35.72% while whites declined from 32.4% to 21.9%.

By way of comparison, the demographics of California high school graduates have changed during that time period. Black students decreased their share from 6.65% in 2010 to 5.3% in 2019, while Latinos increased from 42% to 51.8%, Asian Americans stayed roughly the same at about 14%, and whites declined from 34.4% to 24.7%.

But UC has not kept pace with the growing diversity of students in California K-12 schools or the overall state population, the memo said. In 2016, for instance, underrepresented students made up 37% of UC freshmen but 56% of high school graduates.

UC campuses also have not hired proportional numbers of female faculty in several fields, such as life sciences, physical sciences and mathematics, compared with the number of women with doctorates in those areas. The university has kept pace in engineering, computer science, education, arts and humanities, the board memo said.

Ahmad Mahmuod, a UC Berkeley incoming junior, said the constraints of Proposition 209 have hampered the ability to press for more Black students, faculty and services — such as earmarked scholarships — at his campus. He and a group of other Berkeley students took their concerns to Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), who has credited them for inspiring her to introduce ACA 5.

“We know when campuses are more diverse and reflect the community, everyone benefits,” said Mahmuod, who is majoring in legal studies.

Reaction to ACA 5 is mixed among Asian Americans. Polls show that the majority of Asian Americans support affirmative action, and the measure is likely to increase the admission of students from some Southeast Asian subgroups and Pacific Islanders, according to Vincent Pan of Chinese for Affirmative Action.

Lu, however, said some Asian Americans are concerned they will be squeezed out of UC seats. She said many of her foundation members are immigrants who came to the United States “dirt poor” and succeeded through education and hard work. Allowing preferential treatment based on race, she said, will deny people the right to succeed through merit.

“Our skin color will become a scarlet letter,” she said.

Both Asian American regents, William Um and Lark Park, voted to support ACA 5. Park said that it was “fantasy” to assert that race and gender don’t matter. “We need to stop pretending that everyone has access to equal opportunity because they don’t,” Park said.

The debate over ACA 5 revives a four-decade battle over affirmative action in the UC system. In 1974, a white student named Allan Bakke sued the UC system, saying a special admissions program for minorities led to his rejection by UC Davis medical school and violated his constitutional and civil rights. In a landmark 1978 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down racial quotas but upheld the use of race as one of several factors in college admissions policy.

Even if ACA 5 wins passage, the UC and California State University systems would still need to decide how affirmative action would be implemented in their admission and hiring processes. In that event, Regent Sherry Lansing stressed, UC would not lower its high academic standards but merely add race as one of many factors in admissions decisions.

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