Brian Mark Weber / October 4, 2019

Harvard Can Continue to Discriminate

Because an Obama judge essentially rules that the ends justify the means.

October is here, and America’s most prestigious colleges and universities are teeming with young people eager to earn an elite degree and land a well-paying job. Unfortunately, far too many Asian-Americans never received the collegiate acceptance letter they rightfully deserved.

Their sin? Being Asian-American.

That’s the sorry state of affairs in American higher education — at least at Harvard University, which recently won a lawsuit brought against it by Students for Fair Admissions, a group opposed to racial preferences in college admissions. The charge? That Harvard discriminates against Asian-American students who appear to be extraordinarily well qualified for admission, especially when their grades and test scores are compared to those of other racial minorities.

Last year, the Associated Press reported that the plaintiff group “says Harvard’s gatekeepers hold Asian-American applicants to a higher standard and discriminate against them using a subjective ‘personal rating’ that measures traits such as courage and likability. Using six years of school admissions data, the group found that Harvard officials consistently gave Asian-Americans the lowest scores in the personal rating, while scoring black and Hispanic students the highest. Asians fared well in other categories including academics, yet they were admitted at the lowest rate.”

Surely even Allison Burroughs, the Obama-appointed federal judge hearing the case, would flag such racially discriminatory (and therefore unconstitutional) behavior and rule in favor of Students for Fair Admissions, right?

Not so fast.

According to Quin Hillyer at The Washington Examiner, Burroughs admits that Asian-Americans would be admitted at higher rates if the admissions staff only looked at academic and extracurricular ratings. Hillyer adds, “Instead, they are admitted at a lower rate than white and black applicants, and at a significantly lower rate than applicants of other races with similar paper qualifications.”

But in classic leftist double-speak, Burroughs spun this clear-cut racial discrimination as an admirable characteristic of Harvard.

As she stated in her opinion, “Harvard did not offer a competing regression model to show that no statistically significant relationship between Asian American identity and the personal rating exists, and the Court therefore concludes that the data demonstrates a statistically significant and negative relationship between Asian American identity and the personal rating assigned by Harvard admissions officers, holding constant any reasonable set of observable characteristics.”

Seems like an open-and-shut case if there ever was one.

Yet Burroughs quickly dismissed the convincing data by concluding that “any causal relationship between Asian American identity and the personal rating must, therefore, have been sufficiently subtle to go unnoticed by numerous considerate, diligent, and intelligent admissions officers who were immersed in the admissions process.”

In other words, even though Harvard blatantly discriminates against Asian-Americans, the Harvard admissions staff is just too smart and thoughtful to have knowingly favored one group of students over another. And Judge Burroughs’s recommendation that Harvard admissions officials participate in bias training, while absolving them of any wrongdoing, is an affront to common sense.

Apparently, leftist policies that advance the interests of favored racial groups at the expense of other racial groups are sufficient justification for discrimination. This same twisted reasoning isn’t new. We saw it put into practice when Christian bakers were forced to bake special cakes for same-sex weddings under the rationale that it was necessary to trample upon the rights of one group in order to advance those of another.

As Paul Mirengoff writes at PowerLine, “Harvard’s admissions officers aren’t biased against Asian-Americans. Rather, they are biased in favor of African-Americans. Ridding them of that bias isn’t what Judge Burroughs has in mind. Indeed, she shares that bias, at least in her official capacity.”

Mirengoff further adds, “Bias training might be useful, though. It might enable Harvard to reject Asian-American applicants for racial reasons without expressing its disapproval of such applicants in stereotypical language. But why bother to cover things up when the judge has deemed Harvard’s admissions program not only lawful, but ‘very fine.’”

What a shame. After all the progress we’ve made to create a level playing field for all Americans, the very leftists who claim to be champions of equal rights are now engaging in the very behaviors they once rightly denounced.

Let’s hope this case is appealed to a higher court, and that the irrational conclusions of Judge Burroughs are reversed. Maybe then Asian-Americans can get a fair shot at an elite degree.

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