California; Hayward — Three minority advocacy groups have filed a lawsuit against Harvard University, accusing the institution of discriminatory practices by granting preferential treatment to children of wealthy donors and alumni.
The lawsuit, brought forward by Lawyers for Civil Rights on behalf of the Chica Project, the African Community Economic Development of New England and the Greater Boston Latino Network, claims that the students benefiting from this preferential treatment are predominantly white and constitute up to 15% of admitted students, according to CNN.
Lawyers for Civil Rights argues that this preferential treatment is unrelated to an applicant's merit and is instead an unfair advantage based solely on family background. The practice is deemed exclusionary and discriminatory, placing applicants of color at a severe disadvantage. The lawsuit draws on a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that limited affirmative action, emphasizing that admissions benefiting some individuals while ruling out others is fundamentally unfair.
The plaintiffs contend that a significant portion of white students admitted to Harvard due to donor and legacy preferences would not have been accepted otherwise. They argue that ending such preferences would create greater opportunities for applicants of color. With the recent Supreme Court ruling restricting the use of race in admissions, the lawsuit urges the Department of Education to address this discriminatory practice, particularly considering its anticipated negative impact on campus diversity.
According to the plaintiffs, Black, Latinx and Asian American applicants are significantly underrepresented among those who receive donor or legacy preferences. Harvard College statistics for the class of 2027 reveal that African American and Black students constituted 15.3% of accepted undergraduates, Asian Americans accounted for 29.9%, Latinx students for 11.3%, and Native American and Native Hawaiian students for 2.7%. The remaining 40.8% of accepted undergraduates are presumed to be white.
Harvard University has refrained from commenting on the lawsuit. The institution stated that it will determine how to align its practices with the new precedent set by the Supreme Court. The plaintiffs are calling on the Department of Education to investigate Harvard's use of donor and legacy preferences and address any resulting unjustified disparities. They also demand that applicants no longer be able to identify familial relationships in the admissions process.
Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights and one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, highlights the need to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination in line with the recent Supreme Court ruling. He questions the practice of rewarding children for privileges inherited from previous generations, asserting that family background and wealth should not influence the college admissions process.
Noumaan Faiz, (he/him) is a journalist and entertainer from Hayward, CA who covers culture and entertainment.
Edited by Nykeya Woods