AAUP Ivy League defend Harvards affirmative action policies

The American Association of University Professors and the entire Ivy League have sided with Harvard University as it faces a lawsuit challenging its affirmative action policies.

A non-profit group called Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) recently put the public spotlight on Harvard University, alleging that the school discriminates against Asian Americans in its admission process. Harvard has dismissed the validity of this lawsuit as “ideological,” arguing that it is legally entitled to use race as a factor in its admissions decisions as a means of achieving racial diversity.

According to SFFA, Asian Americans have “significantly” stronger academic qualifications than do applicants from other groups, and “would comprise 50% of the admitted class” if Harvard evaluated students solely on their academic merits, rather than their current 18.7 percent share of the student body.

One reason for this discrepancy, SFFA alleges, is that the Admissions Office consistently gives Asian Americans low ratings for personality, even though alumni interviewers tend to score them highly in that category.

[RELATED: Harvard derides affirmative action lawsuit as ‘ideological’]

Last week the AAUP, along with the American Council on Education and 35 other higher education associations, filed an amicus brief opposing the public challenge to Harvard’s race-based admission tactics.  

“The case, Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. Harvard, asks the court to prevent Harvard and other colleges and universities from using race as part of their admission criteria for students,” the AAUP explains in a page on its website titled "AAUP Supports Affirmative Action." 

“The plaintiff is an organization created by anti-affirmative action activist Edward Blum,” the statement adds, noting that the suit “alleges that Harvard’s admissions process holds Asian-American applicants to a higher standard and argues that Harvard engages in ‘racial balancing’ when it could use race-neutral alternatives.”

The amicus brief, conversely, argues that “a diverse student body is essential to educational objectives of colleges and universities, and that each institution should be able to exercise its academic judgment to determine within broad limits the diversity that will advance its own particular mission."

[RELATED: Affirmative

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