Justice Department Says Yale Discriminated by Race in Undergraduate Admissions

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Justice Department Says Yale Discriminated by Race in Undergraduate Admissions

Federal investigation launched in 2018 determines school violated civil-rights law in rejecting white, Asian-American applicants based on race

The Justice Department said it determined that Yale University has discriminated against Asian-American and white applicants, issuing its findings roughly two years after opening an investigation into the school’s admissions practices.

The department said Thursday that it found Yale discriminates based on race and national origin, violating federal civil-rights law, and that race was the “determinative factor” in hundreds of admissions decisions each year. It said for the majority of applicants, Asian-American and white students have one-tenth to one-fourth the likelihood of being admitted as African-American applicants with comparable academic credentials.

“Yale rejects scores of Asian American and white applicants each year based on their race, whom it otherwise would admit,” the Justice Department said.

Yale spokeswoman Karen Peart said the school has cooperated with the investigation and is “dismayed that the DOJ has made its determination before allowing Yale to provide all the information the Department has requested thus far.”

She said the New Haven, Conn., school relies on a holistic review of applicants, including academics, leadership experience, their backgrounds and more. “Had the Department fully received and fairly weighed this information, it would have concluded that Yale’s practices absolutely comply with decades of Supreme Court precedent.”

The investigation marks an escalation of the Trump administration’s efforts to challenge the longstanding consideration of race in elite colleges’ admissions decisions.

That universities should be allowed to consider an applicant’s race, in a limited fashion, in crafting their undergraduate classes is a bedrock principle of American higher education supported by four decades of Supreme Court precedents. Schools say diverse campuses have educational benefits, such as better preparing students for the global workforce.

The Justice Department said Thursday that Yale’s use of race is “anything but limited.” It said the university takes race into account at multiple points and racially balances its class in a practice similar to quotas.

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