Education Law

Harvard president says admissions data used by lawsuit plaintiffs is taken out of context

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Harvard University students gather for graduation ceremonies./f11photo (

Outgoing Harvard University president Drew Faust told students in an email on Tuesday the plaintiffs suing the school over its admissions policies are relying on “misleading, selectively presented data taken out of context.”

Faust sent the email in advance of an expected court filing on Friday by the group Students for Fair Admissions, which is alleging that Harvard discriminates against Asian-Americans in admissions, report the Boston Globe, the Harvard Crimson and Inside Higher Ed. The group and Harvard are likely to offer separate analyses of the admissions data, according to the Globe.

Faust’s email said the group’s intent “is to question the integrity of the undergraduate admissions process and to advance a divisive agenda.” Faust said Harvard “will react swiftly and thoughtfully to defend diversity as the source of our strength and our excellence—and to affirm the integrity of our admissions process.”

The lawsuit claims Harvard’s admissions policies violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which bans discrimination in programs receiving federal funding.

The federal judge overseeing the case, Allison Burroughs, ruled in April that Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions must work together to decide on redactions in admissions documents before they are made public in a court filing, the Crimson previously reported.

The U.S. Justice Department had urged the documents be made public in a “notice of interest” that cited its own investigation into bias in Harvard admissions.

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