- Two federal agencies are jointly investigating Yale University based on allegations that its admissions practices discriminate against Asian-American students, the Wall Street Journal reported.
- The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division opened the investigation in April based on a 2016 complaint by a coalition of Asian-American groups charging Yale, Brown University and Dartmouth University with holding Asian-American students to a higher standard and using quotas for admission decisions. Brown and Dartmouth were dropped from the investigation.
- Yale President Peter Salovey said officials would cooperate but "vigorously defend our ability to create a diverse and excellent academic community." He said the student body has diversified in several ways in the last 15 years, including with the percentage of Asian-American students increasing from less than 14% to nearly 22%.
The Trump administration has made its views on affirmative action admissions policies clear. In July, it pulled back Obama-era guidance encouraging the use of race in the admissions process, which is most common at highly selective institutions. And in August, the Justice Department filed a statement of interest in support of a group of Asian-American students who were rejected from Harvard University and are suing the institution for admissions criteria they say are discriminatory.
Affirmative action admissions policies have been debated at the Supreme Court several times in the last two decades and have narrowly avoided rulings to eliminate them, Urban Institute researchers Matthew Chingos and Victoria Lee explain in a blog post. With the likelihood of a conservative justice to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy — known for his swing vote — and high-profile cases against Harvard and Yale in the pipeline, the rule on affirmative action in college admissions established in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke is expected to again come into question, and soon, the pair write.
The students suing Harvard are backed by affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions. They say the university consistently ranked them lower on personal criteria such as likability. Harvard scores students on five scales — academic, extracurricular, athletic, personal and overall. The suit says whites get higher ratings than Asian-Americans for personal attributes, with 21.3% of white applicants getting a score of one or two compared to 17.6% of Asian-Americans.
Like Yale, Harvard contends it wants to increase diversity and has with Asian Americans, who make up about 22% of its 2021 class, although they accounted for about 5% of the public high school population in 2013.