Civil Rights Groups Who Supported Harvard Students in Affirmative Action Case Are Closely Examining Yale University Discrimination Claims

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC Question DOJ’s Conclusory Allegations
For Immediate Release
Michelle Boykins (202) 296-2300, ext. 0144

Washington, D.C. — The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC are reviewing claims that Yale University’s race conscious policies discriminate against White students and Asian American students and are considering legal action to help defend lawful admissions policies that ensure racial and ethnic student diversity, which benefits all students, if warranted.

The U.S. Department of Justice issued a notice yesterday accusing Yale University of violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, alleging discrimination on the basis of race and national origin. Despite low overall enrollment rates, the notice suggests that Black and Latinx students are admitted into Yale with lesser academic qualifications, but is bereft of the type of serious, comprehensive analysis that such investigations demand. Similar charges against Harvard were rejected by a federal court in 2018. This is the administration’s latest effort in an ongoing campaign to eliminate affirmative action in higher education.

“The Justice Department’s conclusory and politically-motivated accusations against Yale University are yet another wedge this administration has sought to drive between racially and ethnically diverse communities since day one of January 2017,” said David Hinojosa, director of the Educational Opportunities Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Education should be the great equalizer in our country yet for centuries, access to high-quality education was systematically denied to millions of Black families. Yale’s admission policies, which account for various attributes and skills of students, are consistent with more than 40 years of U.S. Supreme Court precedent and more importantly, should be consistent with the vision we all have for an educated and inclusive republic.”

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Advancing Justice | AAJC, on behalf of the Asian Americans Advancing Justice affiliation, currently represent a multiracial group of students of color in litigation supporting Harvard’s affirmative action policies. The civil rights groups have indicated that they are prepared to take on this latest challenge as well.

“We have supported affirmative action policies through multiple legal challenges over the years because the evidence is clear that affirmative action benefits all students, including Asian Americans,” said John C. Yang, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC. “The DOJ letter provides little data to support its assertions. We are fighting this false narrative in defense of Harvard University students as well. Where you start out in life shouldn’t determine where you end up. All students deserve the chance to share the whole story of who they are and why they should be accepted in their college applications. It’s unfair to force students to leave out vital parts of their story, including Asian American students who have struggled against stereotypes and grappled with racial discrimination that unfairly limit their opportunities in school and in the job market.”

The majority of Asian Americans, African Americans and other people of color are in support of affirmative action and race conscious policies because they understand that we need to do more to increase diversity and inclusivity in higher education. More than 60% of Asian Americans support affirmative action according to recent surveys. Considering race as a factor in admissions is a way to safeguard against the discrimination that women and people of color face in accessing equal opportunities in education, the workforce, and in life.