On Thursday (October 8), the Department of Justice sued Yale University. Prosecutors allege the prestigious university was illegally discriminating against Asian American and White applicants in violation of federal civil rights law. Yale denied the allegations, describing them as "meritless" and "hasty."
According to the lawsuit, however, prosecutors believe Yale "discriminates based on race and national origin in its undergraduate admissions process, and that race is the determinative factor in hundreds of admissions decisions each year." Two months before filing the lawsuit, the DOJ publicly accused Yale of discrimination, as well, claiming Asian American and White students have "only one-tenth to one-fourth of the likelihood of admission as African American applicants with comparable academic credentials."
The investigation stems from a 2016 complaint against Yale, Brown and Dartmouth regarding their admissions processes. The DOJ claims to have found that Yale "racially balances its classes" by using race as a factor for acceptance throughout the admissions process.
"All persons who apply for admission to colleges and universities should expect and know that they will be judged by their character, talents, and achievements and not the color of their skin," Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said in a statement. "To do otherwise is to permit our institutions to foster stereotypes, bitterness, and division."
According to the Supreme Court, universities are allowed to consider race in admissions decisions. However, the onus is on the universities to be able to show consideration of race is appropriate. Often it is to promote diversity in the school population. Yale stated its admission process is in compliance with the Supreme Court's precedent. The university says they evaluate "the whole person when selecting whom to admit among the many thousands of highly qualified applicants."
"As our country grapples with urgent questions about race and social justice, I have never been more certain that Yale's approach to undergraduate admissions helps us to fulfill our mission to improve the world today and for future generations,' Yale president Peter Salovey wrote in a statement regarding the lawsuit.