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Op/ed: Harvard Admission Decisions Belie Claims of Discrimination

UMD Education Scholar Argues for Continuation of Race-Conscious Policies

By Julie J. Park

bridge and red dome on Harvard's campus

In a new essay, a University of Maryland education professor argues that Harvard's admissions policies don't amount to intentional racial discrimination against Asian Americans.

Photo by iStock

The Supreme Court is expected to rule later this year in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, which alleges the prestigious private college unfairly discriminated against Asian Americans in part by assigning them disproportionately low “personal ratings” as part of the application process.

In her new essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education, College of Education Associate Professor Julie J. Park, who consulted for Harvard in the case, argues the ratings are far more complex than simple, subjective “personality scores,” and that race-conscious admissions are critical for giving every societal group a chance to contribute to a diverse society.

So did Asian Americans really get into Harvard less because Harvard thought they had subpar personalities? We have no evidence to support this claim. All we can weigh is the data that are actually available—everything else is just speculation.

The available data tell us that Asian Americans got into Harvard less not because they were less kind or confident, but because they were less likely to be legacies or recruited athletes. Asian American admit rates are actually slightly higher than admit rates for white students when you compare only students who are not legacies, athletes, on a special Dean’s List, or children of faculty and staff. Again, these dynamics may be unfair, but they are very different from the claim of intentional discrimination made by SFFA.

Read the rest in The Chronicle of Higher Education.



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