After more than two years of investigations, the DoJ has finally determined that Yale university's discriminatory practices during the admissions process amounted to evidence of discrimination against white and Asian-American applicants, in violation of a federal civil rights statute.
The DoJ's two-year investigation concluded that Yale "rejects scores of Asian American and white applicants each year based on their race, whom it otherwise would admit."
Not only did Trump's DoJ pick up the previously rejected 2016 complaint, breathing new life into a movement to return US civil rights policy concerning collegiate admissions back to the standard from the Bush era, which was "race blind" admissions. After many years of squawking about that standard being unfair, the Obama Administration ushered in a new "affirmative action" policy that called for quotas. Trump officially reversed the policy in July 2018.
"Yale’s race discrimination imposes undue and unlawful penalties on racially-disfavored applicants, including in particular Asian American and White applicants," Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, the head of the department’s civil rights division, wrote in a letter to the college’s attorneys.
The complaint was based on years of complaints from white and asian applicants who claim they were only rejected because their race made them "similar" to other applicants. Phrases like "she doesn't have the right profile" - with "profile" being used as a kind of dog whistle for "she's not the right race" - were uncovered in the records obtained by the DoJ from schools including Yale, Harvard and Dartmouth.
The findings detailed in a letter to Yale's attorneys mark the Trump administration's latest step in advancing its college admissions agenda (a low-key critical issue for many white suburban mothers, who spend dozens of hours stressing about their child's academic future, as we learned during the College Admissions scandal, an extreme example of this instinct.
Prosecutors found that Yale has been discriminating against applicants to its undergraduate program based on their race and national origin and “that race is the determinative factor in hundreds of admissions decisions each year.” The investigation found that Asian American and white students have “only one-tenth to one-fourth of the likelihood of admission as African American applicants with comparable academic credentials."
"Unlawfully dividing Americans into racial and ethnic blocs fosters stereotypes, bitterness, and division," Dreiband said in a statement. "It is past time for American institutions to recognize that all people should be treated with decency and respect and without unlawful regard to the color of their skin."
The investigation also found that Yale uses race as a factor in multiple steps of the admissions process and that Yale “racially balances its classes."
As the AP reminds us, SCOTUS precedent has a narrowly defined procedure for how race can be factored in to promote diversity. Schools are responsible for showing why their consideration of race is appropriate.
Yale has previously denied that its admissions process discriminates against Asian Americans or any other ethnic group. Responding to the 2018 announcement of the investigation, Yale’s president said race is just one of “a multitude” of factors the school considers when weighing applications.
Yale denied the DoJ's allegations - and remember, right now, allegations is all they are.
"Yale College could fill its entire entering class several times over with applicants who reach the 99th percentile in standardized testing and who have perfect high school grade point averages, but we do not base admission on such numbers alone," President Peter Salovey wrote. “Rather, we look at the whole person when selecting whom to admit among the many thousands of highly qualified applicants."
Over the previous 15 years, he said, the number of Asian American students in Yale’s incoming classes grew from 14% to 22%. He added that the school’s approach "complies fully with all legal requirements and has been endorsed repeatedly by the Supreme Court."
The Justice Department has demanded that Yale immediately stop and agree not to use race or national origin for upcoming admissions.
This isn't the first time the DoJ has tried to unilaterally pressure top colleges into eliminating the Obama-era "affirmative action" policies Harvard and other schools ahve also been found guilty of the same violations. The DoJ is now demanding that Yale must come up with a detailed plan to factor in race via the Trump administration's guidleines, or simply revert back to the blind admissions of yore
Knowing the prevailing sentiments in the world of academia, we suspect they will resist the administration, at least at first, before trying to come to some kind of compromise.