Harvard Asian Discrimination Trial Day 8: Internal Stats Suggest Discrimination

The Associated Press

On day eight of the Harvard Asian-American discrimination trial, the plaintiffs highlighted an internal Harvard document that suggests the university has a long-running tradition of bias.

On Wednesday, the plaintiffs, an activist group called the Students for Fair Admissions, pointed to an internal Harvard study from 2013 that subtly suggests that Asian-American applicants are disadvantaged in the admissions process. One chart specifically shows the breakdown between white and Asian-American applicants. The chart shows that Asian-American applicants have exceptionally higher grades and test scores but score significantly lower on the “personal rating.” The plaintiff believes that the “personal rating” is used to achieve some type of “racial balance” at the school.

Earlier this week, Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana was asked to comment on the 2013 study. Khurana replied by pointing out that the chart included students who were projected to be admitted.

“If you already knew who got in — which is you already knew the outcome and then that became part of your input — that’s actually problematic from a scientific hypothesis testing perspective,” Khurana said. “It would be as if, for example, I already knew what the Powerball numbers are going to be for tonight and I put that into my model before that happened. I’m going to have a pretty high-similarity outcome in that way.”

Khurana was criticized earlier this week for his defense of Harvard’s practice of admitting students from wealthy families. “We’re not trying to mirror the socioeconomic or income distribution of the United States,” Khurana said on the witness stand on Monday. “What we’re trying to do is identify talent and make it possible for them to come to a place like Harvard.”

Two Harvard admissions officers testified as well on Wednesday. Both vehemently denied that their office discriminated against Asian-Americans. One, Charlene Kim, said that news of the lawsuit came to her as a surprise. “It was surprise and, I think, concern,” Kim said from the witness stand. “It’s not who I know our office to be, and it’s not who I am.”

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