Trial Over Alleged Race Bias In Harvard Admissions Begins

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BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- A lawsuit alleging racial discrimination in Harvard University's admissions process headed to trial in Boston's federal court Monday. The trial is expected to last around three weeks.

In the lawsuit, Harvard was accused of bias against Asian-American applicants, allegedly holding them to a higher standard. Harvard has denied any discrimination, and says it considers applicants' race as one of many factors. The lawsuit was filed in 2014, and carries implications for many other U.S. colleges that say they consider race to admit a diverse mix of students.

Supporting Harvard's admission policies is the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law. Brenda Shum is the director of the Educational Opportunities Project.

"I'll assert that Harvard in fact needs to do more, not less, to ensure that underrepresented groups enroll in greater numbers," Shum said. "This lawsuit is designed to escalate racial anxiety, and relies on baseless allegations from flawed statistical analysis to assert that Harvard is discriminating against Asian-American applicants."

Backers of the lawsuit, though, say discrimination must stop. Edward Blum, President of Students for Fair Admissions, brought the suit. 

"During the last four years that we've gathered our evidence, we think that that evidence is compelling, and we've asked the courts to compel Harvard to stop this discrimination," Blum said. "Harvard has held Asian-Americans to a different academic standard than African-Americans, Hispanics, and Whites."

Before opening statements inside, silent demonstrators marched outside with signs. Crystal Lu traveled from California to make her voice heard.

"We're not against that someone should not be providing their racial information, but how is that going to be used is a big question," Lu told WBZ-TV.

"Whether or not you're for or against affirmative action, it's still important to see how affirmative action has negatively impacted Asian-American groups," Harvard Student Kelley Badchadong told WBZ-TV. "And you can be for affirmative action and still be critical of Harvard in this sense."

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Ben Parker (@radiobenparker) reports

 

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