After civil rights group files complaint over Harvard legacy admissions, US opens probe
The U.S. Department of Education is investigating whether donor and legacy preferences at Harvard University discriminate on the basis of race in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Photo of Harvard Memorial Hall from Shutterstock.
The U.S. Department of Education has opened a probe into Harvard University’s preferences for applicants with family ties to donors and alumni.
The probe was confirmed Tuesday after the nonprofit group Lawyers for Civil Rights filed a complaint with the department on behalf of three groups, according to a press release and coverage by the Harvard Crimson (which apparently broke the news), the New York Times, Reuters and Bloomberg Law.
The department is investigating whether donor and legacy preferences discriminate on the basis of race in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination by entities that receive federal funds.
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina, citing Title VI and the equal protection clause. In a concurring opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch said legacy preferences at Harvard “undoubtedly benefit white and wealthy applicants the most.”
Nearly 70% of donor and legacy applicants at Harvard are white, according to the complaint filed by Lawyers for Civil Rights. The complaint was filed on behalf of the Chica Project, the African Community Economic Development of New England and the Greater Boston Latino Network.
A Harvard spokesperson told the Harvard Crimson that the school has begun an internal review of its admissions processes “to assure compliance with the law and to carry forward Harvard’s long-standing commitment to welcoming students of extraordinary talent and promise who come from a wide range of backgrounds, perspectives and life experiences.”
ABAJournal.com: “Harvard legacy admissions challenged in Education Department complaint”