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US authorities dismiss Asians' complaint against Harvard

Press Trust of India  |  New York 

The US Department of Education has dismissed a complaint filed against Harvard University earlier this year by 64 Asian-American groups, including four Indian-American organisations, that had accused the Ivy League institution of discriminating against Asian-origin applicants in its admissions process.

The 50-page complaint, submitted to the Department of Education and Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division in May, had been filed on behalf of Asian American students.

The students say they have been discriminated against "because of their race, and have been unfairly rejected by Harvard College because of such unlawful use of race in the admissions process, and/or who seek the opportunity to apply for admission without being discriminated against on race".

Among the 64 organisations are four Indian-American community associations-American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin, BIT Sindri Alumni Association of North India, Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin-Los Angeles Chapter and National Federation of Indian American Associations.

A report in The Harvard Crimson, the university paper, said the Department of Education decided to dismiss the complaint because it is similar to an ongoing and separate federal lawsuit filed against Harvard.

While the Department has dismissed the complaint, the Department of Justice has not yet made a decision on the lawsuit, according to Yukong Zhao, one of the complainants.

The case has not yet been resolved and lawyers representing Harvard have filed a motion to delay it until a verdict is reached in another affirmative action case that the US Supreme Court recently agreed to review a second time.

Harvard has repeatedly denied allegations that its admissions policies are discriminatory, the Crimson said.

The Crimson report said about 21 per cent of Harvard's incoming class is Asian-American.

Zhao said he is "very disappointed" by the Education Department's move to dismiss the complaint and hopes Harvard will be investigated by the Department of Justice, adding that the groups may pursue an expanded complaint to include other Ivy League colleges.

"We are considering expanding the scope of our complaint," Zhao said in the Crimson report, adding that "there are lots of other Ivy League schools discriminating against Asians" without their own pending discrimination lawsuits.

"Racial discrimination based on racial quotas, stereotypes and prejudices are other important factors because the discrimination Asian-Americans have suffered is more severe than that suffered by white Americans, another racial group not favoured by Affirmative Action," the organisations had said in the complaint.

It said many Asian-American students, who have almost perfect test scores along with significant awards or leadership positions in various extracurricular activities, have been rejected by Harvard University and other Ivy League Colleges while similarly situated applicants of other races have been admitted.

"Because of this discrimination, it has become especially difficult for high-performing male Asian-American students to gain admission to Harvard University and other Ivy League colleges. In recently years these trends have become more and more severe," the complaint said.

First Published: Fri, July 10 2015. 19:07 IST