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Justice Department accuses Yale of discriminating against Asian American and White applicants

An investigation found that the school uses race as ‘the determinative factor’ in hundreds of admissions decisions

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Following a two-year investigation, the Department of Justice has concluded that Yale University’s undergraduate admissions process “illegally discriminates” against White and Asian American students. 

In a letter sent Thursday, the DOJ informed university officials that it found that Yale “discriminates based on race and national origin in its undergraduate admissions process, and that race is the determinative factor in hundreds of admissions decisions each year.” 

The investigation was launched in response to a complaint filed by Asian American groups. Upon completion of the investigation, the DOJ said it found that race was “the determinative factor in hundreds of admissions decisions each year.” 

Based on that fact, the DOJ argues that the Ivy League school is in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

"Yale grants substantial, and often determinative, preferences based on race to certain racially-favored applicants and relatively and significantly disfavors other applicants because of their race," the letter said. “Yale’s race discrimination imposes undue and unlawful penalties on racially-disfavored applicants, including in particular Asian American and White applicants."

Yale denies allegation

In a statement, Yale denied the allegation and called it “meritless” and “hasty.” The school said it stands by its admissions practices. 

"At Yale, we look at the whole person when selecting whom to admit among the many thousands of highly qualified applicants," the statement said. "We take into consideration a multitude of factors, including their academic achievement, interests, demonstrated leadership, background, success in taking maximum advantage of their secondary school and community resources, and the likelihood that they will contribute to the Yale community and the world."

A spokesperson for the university said the DOJ made the allegation before Yale had a chance to provide all the information the Department requested.

"Had the Department fully received and fairly weighed this information, it would have concluded that Yale's practices absolutely comply with decades of Supreme Court precedent,” the spokesperson said.

Nonetheless, the DOJ said that if Yale plans to use race as criteria in the future, the school “must first submit to the Department of Justice a plan demonstrating its proposal is narrowly tailored as required by law, including by identifying a date for the end of race discrimination.”

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