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Trump Administration Backs Asian-Americans in Harvard Case

FILE - Public policy and government graduate students hold inflatable globes during Harvard University commencement exercises, Thursday, May 24, 2018, in Cambridge, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Trump Administration Backs Asian-Americans in Harvard Case
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The United States Justice Department on Thursday sided with Asian-American students suing Harvard University over its consideration of race in admissions.

The department said in a court filing Thursday that Harvard has failed to demonstrate that it does not discriminate on the basis of race. It noted what it described as “substantial evidence” that Harvard is carrying out what the department called “racial balancing.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions added, “No American should be denied admission to school because of their race.”

The Trump administration has been pushing for admissions policies that do not use race in the consideration process.

In 2014, the group Students For Fair Admission or SFFA argued that Harvard unfairly treats Asian-Americans who have strong school records. The Ivy League school denied the accusation. It said it does not discriminate and will fight to defend its right to consider race in admissions.

The U.S. Supreme Court permits colleges and universities to consider race in admissions. But it says this must be done for the narrow purpose of creating a mix of ethnicities at schools. The court also says the practice should be limited in time. And the court bars the establishment of acceptance levels based on race. The case between the SFFA and Harvard could become the high court’s next test on the issue.

Harvard said it was disappointed by the Justice Department’s position. A university statement said the school “will continue to vigorously defend the legal right of every college and university to consider race” in college admissions. The statement added that the Supreme Court has upheld that legal right for more than 40 years.

The university said colleges and universities must have the freedom to create mixed communities. It said such an environment is critical the learning experience of all students.

Sessions argued the school’s use of a “personal rating,” such as being a “good person” or “likeability,” may be biased against Asian-Americans. He said the school admits that it scores Asian-Americans lower on “personal rating” than others seeking admission.

In July, the Trump administration cancelled a measure that ordered universities to consider race in their admissions process to make the schools more racially mixed. That order was left over from the last administration of President Barack Obama.

I'm Caty Weaver.

Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on the Associated Press news report. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

sue - v. to bring a lawsuit against someone or something

Ivy League - n. The Ivy League consists of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, and Cornell universities, the University of Pennsylvania, and Dartmouth College.

disappoint - v. to make (someone) unhappy by not being as good as expected or by not doing something that was hoped for or expected

vigorous - adj. done with great force and energy

biased - adj. having or showing an unfair tendency to believe that some people, ideas, etc., are better than others