It’s not every day that one of the world’s most renowned and successful universities, particular one who specializes in the study of law, is charged with violations of federal law. But that is precisely what has happened.
Yale was charged on Thursday with violating Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by discriminating students based on race in their undergraduate admission process. The violation was brought to the institution by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice after a two-year-long investigation.
The DOJ was made aware of these possible violations by a group of Asian American students who claim that both at Yale and Harvard, they are discriminated against because of their race and very seldom allowed admittance into the prestigious colleges.
With the investigation now concluded, the DOJ agrees with the students, noting that Asian Americans, as well as white Americans, seem to have a much lesser chance of being admitted.
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According to the letter Yale was sent by DOJ, “The Department of Justice found Yale discriminates based on race and national origin in its undergraduate admission process, and that race is a determinative factor in hundreds of admission decisions each year. For the great majority of applicants, Asian Americans and whites have only one-tenth to one-fourth of the likelihood of admission as African American applicants with comparable academic credentials.”
Now, per the Supreme Court, colleges and universities such as Yale who receive federal funding are allowed to use race in the admissions process, but only in “certain limited circumstances” and as one of many, many factors. It is noted both by the Supreme Court and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that race is never, ever to be used as a determining factor.
However, according to the DOJ’s findings, this is not how Yale uses race. “Yale uses race at multiple steps of its admissions process resulting in a multiplier effect of race on an applicant’s likelihood of admission, and Yale racially balances its classes.”
Per the DOJ’s letter, Yales considers race when applications are first received to rate those students. Race is used again, later on, assessing those same applicants again against a slightly different criterion. And then race is considered “at subsequent stages of the admissions process.”
Beyond this, the DOJ cites past applicant data as further proof.
It took admission data from 2000 to 2017 and noted that for white and Asian American students who applied to Yale, the number of those admitted were always much lower than the proportion of the applicant pool. In contrast, in each of those 18 years, African Americans and Hispanics who were admitted made up a vastly more significant number than their proportion in the applicant pool would suggest they should have.
Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, who is part of the Civil Rights Division, says, “There is no such thing as a nice form of race discrimination. Unlawfully dividing Americans into racial blocs and ethnic blocs foster stereotypes, bitterness, and division. It is past time for American institutions to recognize that all people should be treated with decency and respect and without unlawful regard to the color of their skin.”
So far, the college has not been given any real sort of punishment for their discriminative actions, except that it quickly change its admission process to reflect racial impartiality and equality. However, if Yale refuses to make such changes for the upcoming and soon to begin schoolyear on its own, the DOJ has threatened to push them to do so, namely by suing the Ivy League institution.
But already, it seems Yale is digging in for a fight.
The university released a statement of its own on Thursday, not only denying “this allegation,” but stating the DOJ’s investigation had been “hasty” and didn’t allow Yale to provide the necessary information to refute the accusations.
“Given our commitment to complying with federal law, we are dismayed that the DOJ has made its determination before allowing Yale to provide all the information the Department has requested thus far. Had the Department fully received and fairly weighed this information, it would have concluded that Yale’s practices absolutely comply.”
And they added, “We are proud of Yale’s admission practices, and we will not change them on the basis of such a meritless, hasty accusation.”
I’d love to know how, in two years, Yale couldn’t get all that data to the DOJ. Furthermore, how could any college be proud of discrimination on any level? No doubt, AG William Barr will have words on this one.