In November 2014, an organization created by anti-race conscious admissions activist Edward Blum calling itself Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) sued Harvard, alleging that the University discriminates against Asian-Americans and seeking to prevent Harvard College and other colleges and universities from using a wide-ranging and thorough admissions process that considers the whole person.
The following spring, in a parallel effort, a group of individuals also lodged a complaint against Harvard with the Department of Education and the Department of Justice. The Department of Education evaluated and dismissed the complaint during the summer of 2015. In late 2017, under the Trump administration, the Department of Justice reopened the investigation. The Department of Education complaint remains closed.
These actions are the continuation of a series of challenges to the consideration of race in admissions in higher education orchestrated by Mr. Blum. In 2008, some of the same individuals launched a similar lawsuit against the University of Texas at Austin. The Supreme Court upheld UT’s admissions policies in 2016, reaffirming the value of creating a diverse student body and allowing university officials to consider the whole person, including each person’s individual background and life experiences, when making admission decisions among academically qualified applicants.
If the lawsuit against Harvard succeeds, it would diminish students’ opportunities to live and learn in a diverse campus environment—denying them the kind of experiences that are central to Harvard’s educational mission and critical for success in our diverse society.
Harvard College does not discriminate against applicants from any group in its admissions processes. We will continue to vigorously defend the right of Harvard, and other colleges and universities, to seek the educational benefits that come from a class that is diverse on multiple dimensions, from its capacity for academic excellence to its ability to help create a campus community that gives each student the opportunity to learn from peers with a wide variety of academic interests, perspectives, and talents.