The Trump administration is looking into complaints that Yale University discriminates against Asian-American students in its admissions practices.
Yale is the second Ivy League school within a month that the administration is probing after announcing in August that it would review Harvard University’s policies, also in regard to Asian students.
The Justice Department and the Office for Civil Rights of the Education Department are conducting the investigation.
According to politico.com, a letter sent to the Asian American Coalition for Education on Wednesday from the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights and obtained by Politico says the department is reviewing the allegations against Yale in part because they were filed on behalf of a “particular Asian-American applicant”.
The letter says the department is investigating “whether the University discriminated against the Applicant and other Asian-American applicants by treating applicants differently based on race during the admission process”, politico reported, adding that the letter says the DOJ inquiry started in April.
Yale University President Peter Salovey issued a statement on Wednesday defending the school’s admissions.
“This investigation takes place in the context of legal challenges at other universities aimed at overturning Supreme Court precedent permitting the consideration of race in college admissions,” he said. “I write now to state unequivocally that Yale does not discriminate in admissions against Asian Americans or any other racial or ethnic group …
“The creation of a diverse academic community has not come at the expense of applicants of any racial or ethnic background, Salovey wrote, adding that “over the past 15 years, the number of Asian Americans has grown from less than 14 percent of the incoming first-year class to 21.7 percent in the Class of 2022.”
On Aug 30, the Justice Department, questioning Harvard’s use of race as a criterion in admissions, supported Asian-American applicants’ lawsuit against the school.
The department backed the claim by the plaintiff, Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), that Harvard has been discriminating against Asian Americans by raising the standards for their admission and limiting the number who get accepted.
The filing said that Harvard “uses a vague ‘personal rating’ that harms Asian-American applicants’ chances for admission and may be infected with racial bias; engages in unlawful racial balancing; and has never seriously considered race-neutral alternatives in its more than 45 years of using race to make admissions decisions”.
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement last month that “no American should be denied admission to school because of their race. As a recipient of taxpayer dollars, Harvard has a responsibility to conduct its admissions policy without racial discrimination by using meaningful admissions criteria that meet lawful requirements”.
Edward Blum, SFFA president, said that Students for Fair Admissions “is gratified that, after careful analysis of the evidence submitted in this case, the US Department of Justice has concluded Harvard’s admissions policies are in violation of our nation's civil rights laws”.
Harvard said it was “deeply disappointed” by the filing and criticized the arguments as “misleading and hollow”.
“This decision is not surprising given the highly irregular investigation the DOJ has engaged in thus far, and its recent action to repeal Obama-era guidelines on the consideration of race in admissions,” Harvard said in a statement.
In July, the Education and Justice departments announced that they were reversing seven guidelines from when Barack Obama was president that encouraged schools to achieve diversity using race.
In support of Harvard, a group of students and alumni filed a brief in July in which they said the lawsuit was an attempt to “dismantle efforts to create a racially diverse and inclusive student body through college admissions”.
Harvard also received support from 16 other US universities, which filed a brief echoing the school’s position that student body diversity is essential to achieving educational missions.
The Harvard case is scheduled to go to trial in October.