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Harvard University Wins High-Profile Case on Unjust and Racially Biased Admissions Against Students for Fair Admissions


Back in October 2018, Harvard University faced a lawsuit involving its undergraduate admission processes and policies. The said case has resulted in the Ivy League school being pitted against Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), an organization created by conservative activist Edward Blum. The group opposes affirmative action policies in an effort to include the minority groups which have been historically neglected or marginalized because of discrimination.

In general, the College has been accused of racial bias against Asian-American students and applicants. The formal complaint revolves around the College's admission practices and policies, focused on what SFFA sees as an apparent injustice towards the screening process for applicants of Asian descent.

"At issue is whether the College's "holistic" admissions practices-which evaluate students not only for grades and test scores, but also for personal traits such as character-discriminate against Asian-American applicants," explained by Harvard Magazine.

SFFA claims that Harvard University discriminates against Asian-American applicants since they set a higher bar for applicants of Asian descent before they are accepted into the College. The group also highlighted that the institution uses a quota system that limits the number of Asian students on campus to make space for other racial groups. They referred to this process as racial balancing, a system that is tagged as illegal under the Federal Law.

Because of these claims, Harvard University's policies, practices, and traditions were thrown under public scrutiny. Despite the case mainly challenging the ostensible accusations of unjust admission processes, SFFA brought attention to other traditions and policies of the College as well. This includes policies involving athletes, children of donors, and alumni.

Faced with these allegations, Harvard University remained firm in its stand. The College claimed that they use a "holistic" strategy to evaluate all applicants. They issued a statement saying that race is only a minor consideration when it comes to admitting students on campus. They do, however, evaluate through test scores, grades, and personal traits - a term that was misunderstood in this case for it refers to the character of the applicant. It was also pointed out that the College's admission policies and practices received careful examination before they were implemented, ensuring that the Law is truly upheld.

In addition, the institution emphasized that the number of Asian students enrolled in the College has been steadily increasing over the past few years. It was revealed that 23% of the entire student body's population on campus now consists of Asian students.

Fortunately for the Ivy League school, US District Judge Allison Burroughs ruled in favor of Harvard University against the allegations of racial bias on Asian-American applicants. The federal judge pointed out that Harvard's programs and policies are far from perfect, but are constitutional at the very least.

"The court will not dismantle a very fine admissions program that passes constitutional muster, solely because it could do better," she wrote in her decision, which was released October 2, 2019 as reported by BBC News. The case has been put on a non-jury trial for almost a year before the decision has been given.

With the result of the case being in favor of Harvard University, SFFA is expected to appeal the decision; however, the group has not issued a response as of writing. Nonetheless, if they so choose to appeal, the case is expected to end up in the Supreme Court.

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