Harvard Asian Discrimination Trial: What We Learned in the First Week

Harvard Gate
Scott Eisen/Getty
TOM CICCOTTA

The trial over Harvard’s alleged discrimination against Asian-American applicants got underway last week in a Boston courthouse.

On Monday, each party offered their opening statement. The plaintiffs, an activist group called the Students for Fair Admissions, argued that Harvard University discriminates against Asian-American applicants. Asian applicants were admitted by the Harvard admissions office at half the rate that white applicants were. Plaintiff’s attorney Adam Mortara argued that white applicants from rural America would likely be admitted over an Asian applicant with higher scores.

Havard attorney Bill Lee fired back aggressively against the accusation in his opening statement. “Harvard does not discriminate and has not discriminated against Asian-Americans,” Lee said. Lee argued that race is just one of many factors that Harvard uses in its decision-making process.

On Tuesday, Harvard’s longtime Dean of Admissions William Fitzsimmons took the witness stand. He was confronted with several examples of the alleged discrimination that took place in his office. “We do not endorse, we abhor, stereotypical comments. This is not part of our process,” he said from the stand. “This is not who I am, and this is not who the admissions committee members are.”

On Wednesday, the trial focused on Harvard’s tradition of admitting students from families who are willing to donate to the university. On the witness stand, Fitzsimmons admitted that family donations could legitimately increase a student’s chance of admission. He defended the practice, arguing that it is “important for the long-term health of the institution.” He added that the practice of admitting these students helps to fund scholarships.

On Thursday, Fitzsimmons was asked to explain internal admissions office documents that described Asian-American applicants as “quiet.” The plaintiffs argued that this was evidence of the office’s willingness to stereotype Asian applicants. “We certainly do everything in our power to treat every applicant fairly,” Fitzsimmons said.

On Friday, plaintiff’s attorneys focused on a 2013 draft report from Harvard’s Office of Institutional Research showed that from 1995 to 2013, Asian-Americans had the lowest acceptance rate of any group. A Harvard staffer who prepared the report defended its conclusions by stating that the research was being taken out of context.

This week, former Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust is expected to testify. Additionally, current Dean of Harvard College, Rakesh Khurana, will take the witness stand.

You can listen to Breitbart News Sunday‘s recap of week one of the trial below.

 

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