Why both sides in the Harvard University Lawsuit are at fault

Why both sides in the Harvard University Lawsuit are at fault

Aretha Prabawa

There is a familiar saying in our society: “two wrongs don’t make a right.” That is an idea that pertains closely with the lawsuit against Harvard University currently going on.

Harvard University is being sued by a group known as Students for Fair Admissions because this group believes that Harvard’s admission process is discriminating towards Asian applicants. This group uses data from current Harvard demographics, as well as admissions data to make their case.

Harvard University has denied any allegations of wrong doings. In a letter to the community, Harvard President Lawrence S. Bacow says, “Let me be unequivocal: The college’s admissions process does not discriminate against anyone.” Harvard uses student testimony to defend themselves, even using an application from an Asian student as evidence. According to this document, the student received a ranking of “2-” for their personality, which is scored on a 1-6 scale, with the highest score being a one. Other students have said that if Harvard had not considered race, they would not have been admitted.

The problem with this is that it this is testimony coming from a small population at Harvard. According to data given from the opposing side, Asian applicants ranked higher than White applicants in academics, but fell short in “personality” rankings. Other Asian students say that though they believe Harvard’s affirmative action policy is beneficial, they also believe that their race is a disadvantage when applying to colleges. It is still quite clear that there is bias against Asian applicants in the admission process.

Though Harvard has many faults in their argument, Students for Fair Admission also has many ulterior motives. When looking at this case, it seems as though Students for Fair Admission is concerned with the discrimination against Asian applicants. In  a letter to members of the group, Students for Fair Admissions president Edward Blum states, “The uproar from the Asian-American community over Harvard’s admissions policies was loud and clear…” In this letter, he also shows a passion for “helping” Asian students have a fair chance in the admissions process. This, however, is not the full story.

This is not the first lawsuit that Blum has filed due to racial policies. He was involved in Fisher v. University of Texas (2008), a case that involved a Caucasian student claiming that looking at race was considered a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. This one of many cases that Blum has been involved with. The similarities between them extend from one thing: policies regarding equal opportunity for students of all races. His intention with these cases is to get rid of policies that give students equal opportunity.

As an Asian student currently applying for college, this case has intrigued and also alarmed me. I believe both sides are in the wrong: Harvard should be more fair when viewing Asian applicants, but this doesn’t mean that race shouldn’t be ignored in the application process. Affirmative action has given students from minorities opportunities they otherwise would not have gotten.

From watching this case, I believe that problems with how Asian applicants are viewed stem from stereotypes of Asian students. We are usually seen as the smart ones who always get the highest grades in the class. We are also seen as people who do things not for ourselves, but for our parents because they are the ones pressuring us to succeed, which make us less independent.  I know I’ve been told many times that my achievements in school was because I was Asian, therefore I was smart. These stereotypes put more pressure on Asian students to do well, and also shape the perception of others.

This doesn’t excuse the blatant attempt at getting rid of equal opportunity policies. Instead of taking away opportunities from others, there should be a change in how society views Asian people. We shouldn’t have to work harder for opportunities because of how society sees us. To truly solve this problem, there needs to be a change in how society views Asians, because we are more than the stereotypes society views us as.