Harvard admissions

Anil Kalhan, an Indian American law professor at Drexel University’s Thomas R. Kline School of Law, is among faculty members and 35 Asian American groups who have filed an amicus brief in support of race-conscious admissions at Harvard University. (drexel.edu photo)

Thirty-five Asian American groups and higher education faculty members, including Indian Americans Anil Kalhan of Drexel University’s Thomas R. Kline School of Law and Sona Shah of the University of Texas at Austin, have filed an amicus brief in support of race-conscious admissions at Harvard University.

“Asian Americans are an extremely diverse population with more than 50 ethnic groups, 100 languages, and a broad range of immigration, socioeconomic, and educational backgrounds,” said Margaret Fung, executive director of Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. “Instead of treating Asian Americans as a monolithic group, the individualized race-conscious admissions process at Harvard helps to create a more diverse student body that benefits all students, including Asian Americans.”

The plaintiff organization Student for Fair Admissions was created by Edward Blum, who has a long history of opposing affirmative action and restricting voting rights, AALDEF stated in a press release, adding that in 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his claims in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin and reaffirmed that race may be considered as one of several factors in the college admissions process.

The press release goes on to add that Blum has continued his crusade against affirmative action by recruiting Asian American students to assert that Harvard discriminated against them.

In their brief, AALDEF and the other Amici, or “friends of the court,” have contended that by improperly grouping the diverse pool of Asian American applicants into a single “Asian” category, SFFA actually perpetuates the “model minority” myth and fails to disclose that its requested remedy – the elimination of race-conscious admissions – would mostly benefit white applicants, not Asian Americans. The Amici reiterated their opposition to caps, quotas, or any negative action against Asian Americans but asserted that SFFA improperly conflates negative action with a race-conscious admissions policy that recognizes the importance of diversity.

Ken Kimerling, legal director at AALDEF and one of the attorneys for Amici, said: “This case is hotly contested by witnesses and experts on both sides. However, SFFA has not submitted facts to support a finding of intentional discrimination against Asian Americans.”

He noted that SFFA has not presented any supporting statements by the 40 or more persons involved each year to review and analyze the applications for admission.

Kimerling said: “If there were a policy, written or unstated, to discriminate against Asian Americans, one or more of the 40 persons would have spoken up about it in the past decade. Clearly, the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment must be denied.”

The Justice Department Aug. 30 sided with Asian-American students suing Harvard University over the Ivy League school’s consideration of race in its admissions policy.

The Justice Department said in a court filing Aug. 30 that the school has failed to demonstrate that it does not discriminate on the basis of race and cited what it described as “substantial evidence that Harvard is engaging in outright racial balancing.” (See India-West story here.)

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