Reading List: SFFA v. Harvard

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Here are some documents, articles, and opinions pieces on the ongoing Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard lawsuit that I found relevant, informative and (some) exceptionally argumentative. It ties in with my previous posts on the institutionalized educational bias when it comes to students from families of lower socio-economic classes. Opinions from both sides are represented. This list is updated regularly as the case and trial progresses.


Meta

Harvard Admissions Lawsuit Page

“There is a fundamental threat to educational opportunity for millions of young people.”

Students for Fair Admissions Updates Page

This is an updates page from the SFFA on the ongoing lawsuit.


News Articles

Vox – The lawsuit against Harvard that could change affirmative action in college admissions, explained.

Harvard is on trial for allegedly discriminating against Asian-American applicants. Here’s what you need to know…

“The Harvard case, both sides argue, could change this. Rather than a white plaintiff, this case relies on a group of high-achieving Asian Americans arguing that a policy meant to help students of color is actually hurting them. Unlike earlier plaintiffs, including Fisher, whose GPA and SAT scores were not as strong as her peers, the plaintiffs in this case have academic records that are much harder to criticize.”

**The New Yorker – The Rise and Fall of Affirmative Action1

With a lawsuit against Harvard, Asian-American activists have formed an alliance with a white conservative to change higher education.

The Harvard Crimson – In Admissions, Harvard Favors Those Who Fund It, Internal Emails Show

In one 2013 email headlined “My Hero,” former Kennedy School Dean Ellwood thanked Harvard’s dean of admissions for his help accepting a set of students with very particular qualifications. “[Redacted] and [redacted] are all big wins. [Redacted] has already committed to a building.”

The New York Times – Harvard Rated Asian-American Applicants Lower on Personality Traits, Suit Says

“Harvard consistently rated Asian-American applicants lower than others on traits like “positive personality,” likability, courage, kindness and being “widely respected,” according to an analysis of more than 160,000 student records filed Friday by a group representing Asian-American students in a lawsuit against the university.”

The Atlantic – The Stakes for the Harvard Trial Are Higher Now That It’s Over

“The main question is: If race is a plus for some students, is it also a minus for others? The plaintiffs argue that there is a racial penalty for Asian students. And they allege that implicit bias on the part of Harvard’s admissions officers when reviewing applications is the reason for that supposed minus. “Evidence of bias and stereotyping can suffice to show intentional discrimination,” Hughes said.”

The Harvard Gazette – Attorney appears confident admissions case ruling will favor Harvard

“William Lee says he expects judge will find that College does not discriminate against Asian Americans”


Opinions

For (Harvard)

NYT – I’m an Asian-American Harvard Alumnus. Affirmative Action Works.

“I once believed that affirmative action was primarily important as a vehicle to address the decades of racial inequality that have harmed minorities in the past, including Asian-Americans. I now recognize that the benefits of the racial and ethnic diversity that affirmative action produces are shared by everyone. When this diversity exists, stereotypes are shattered, arguments are informed by experience, and alternate perspectives lead to revelations. Race cannot and should not be excised from a person’s identity, but communities can be built around shared undergraduate experiences and friendships among students with different backgrounds.”

CNN – My unlikely journey to Harvard sheds light on race lawsuit

“The exclusion of race will also hinder applicants, particularly applicants of color, from conveying the totality of who they are. As a leading institution, this shift in Harvard’s admissions process would set a dangerous precedent for colleges across the country that will further encourage discrimination against students of color in the education system.”

Against

NYT – Harvard Is Wrong That Asians Have Terrible Personalities

“The conclusion is unavoidable: In order to sustain this system, Harvard admissions systematically denigrated the highest achieving group of students in America. Asian-Americans have been collateral damage in the university’s quest to sustain its paradoxical mission to grow its $37 billion endowment and remain the world’s most exclusive institution — all while incessantly preaching egalitarian doctrines.”

The Daily Caller – Asian Americans Shall Not Be Victimized Again by Race-Based Policies

“To Harvard and many colleges who adopt its admissions model, however, no amount of moral preaching, gaslighting or deflecting justifies unequivocal discrimination against Asian-American children. If you understand the Asian-American experience, you will know why.”

Other

WaPo – The Harvard admissions plaintiffs are being used

“It does seem likely that Harvard could do more to avoid bias against this specific racial group, and it’s reasonable for applicants to want an even chance. Unfortunately, however, that real grievance is being used as a tool by Blum and others, in service of a goal that doesn’t serve them — or any minority student — in the long run.”

WaPo – Most white Americans will never be affected by affirmative action. So why do they hate it so much?

“There lies an uncomfortable truth for whites to consider when it comes to affirmative action: They are opposing policies that take into account how historical and persistent inequalities impact other people’s children. Supporting colorblind views of history allows them to blame “biased policies” for their own hardships, instead of recognizing how racial exclusion has shaped the winners and losers of today’s society. In reality, it is policies like affirmative action that prevent them from enjoying the full racial privileges of the past.”

Reason – Let Competition, Not Law, Determine Who Gets Into Harvard

“If the case does eventually wind up at the U.S. Supreme Court, Harvard’s best chance to assemble a majority may rest in part on the idea that the most sensible and effective way to police private college admissions practices isn’t litigation or regulation, but competition. There’s a tendency to think, mistakenly, that the rare resource to be allocated here is a bed at Harvard College, or, to return to the baseball analogy, a spot on the Red Sox roster. But the genuinely scarce goods are the future Stephen Schwarzmans and Jackie Robinsons. The universities are all chasing them. Those young people are going to wind up as winners no matter what school they go to or what team they play for, and no matter what the court decides in this case.”

  1. This is a very comprehensive article discussing the history of Asian-Americans in the United States as a whole and the history of affirmative action. Worth a serious read.
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