Justice Dept. Says Harvard Is Not Complying with Investigation on Race in Admissions

The U.S. Justice Department has accused Harvard University of failing to cooperate with its investigation of the university's admissions policies, reported The Chronicle of Higher Education and Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.

Harvard is currently being investigated under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The probe stems from a complaint filed in 2015 by 64 Asian American groups, which states that Harvard systematically discriminates against Asian American applicants, the Chronicle reported.

In a letter to Harvard's lawyers, the Justice Department said the university had failed to comply with a November 2 deadline to provide documents on its admissions policies.  If it fails comply by the new deadline, December 1, the department plans to sue the university. 

In Diverse, Vanita Gupta, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and former head of the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department during the Obama administration, said "[t]he attorney general seems to be on the hunt for a case to bring a significant change to affirmative action despite the fact that the Supreme Court has continuously upheld the lawfulness of race conspicuous admissions in higher education."

Harvard’s attorney, Seth Waxman, requested more clarification about the rationale and extent of the investigation, Diverse reported. The university has expressed commitment to following federal law as as well as to protecting students, Diverse reported. 

"As we have repeatedly made clear to the Department of Justice, the University will certainly comply with its obligations under Title VI," said Anna Cowenhoven, a spokesperson for Harvard. "In the process, we have an obligation to protect the confidentiality of student and applicant files and other highly sensitive records, and we have been seeking to engage the Department of Justice in the best means of doing so."


Related Links

The Chronicle of Higher Education


Diverse: Issues in Higher Education