An US appeals court in Boston, Massachusetts upheld Harvard University’s affirmative action policy after a group representing Asian Americans challenged it.
The group, Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), claimed the school’s current affirmative action policy favors Black and Hispanic applicants.
A report by CNN said one of the main arguments made by the group was Harvard’s use of a “personal score,” in addition to extracurricular and academic scores. SFFA claimed this ratings system favored Black and Hispanic students while Asian American applicants were stereotyped as only “book smart.”
The appeals court ruled to uphold the original decision that found the scoring system did not stereotype applicants because the scores were not overwhelmingly influenced by race.
Harvard reported that the newly admitted class of 2024, Asian Americans make up 24.6% of the class’ student body, African Americans 13.9%, Latinx 11.8%, and Native Americans and Native Hawaiians, 2.0%. The remaining 47.7% were white students.
The lawsuit was first brought against the school in November 2014. After the court upheld the school’s policy, Judge Sandra Lynch wrote on behalf of the court stating, “Harvard has shown that its holistic consideration of race is not impermissibly extensive.”
Policies, like affirmative action, that facilitate the dismantling of structural racism in historically white institutions are being closely watched as the country continues to reckon with its history and race relations.
This new ruling makes a US Supreme Court case possible. The high court first endorsed the use of affirmative action policies to consider race in admissions processes in 1978 by a 5-4 vote and again in 2003 and 2016.
The new largely conservative bench makeup of the Supreme Court could change the outcome for the case against Harvard.
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