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STATEMENT OF FINDINGS BACKGROUND During the past few years, there has been growing concern within the Asian American community over the possibility of discrimination in the selection of applicants for admission by some of the moxt prestigious colleges and universities in the country. As articulated in numerous media reports and \demie eredentials journal articles, the basic thrust of the concern has been that, despite superior ac in terms of high school performance and standardized test scores. Asian Americans have been admitted 10 selective schools at a rate lower than white applicants and other minority group applicants, Charges that schools are setting quotas to limit the number of Asian American students admitted in the face of their growing numbers of applicants, have been leveled by community leaders and reported in the medis. Although administrators at most private, selective universities deny ory practices of the use of quotas, at least two, Brown and Stantord, formed committees diserimin: to review their own policies aud practices. Brown concluded that there was evidence of discrimination in their admissions process which adversely affected Asian American applicants, At Stanford. a committee found that they could not completely explain why Asian Americans were admiuied at a lower rate than white applicants, although they found no evidence of conscious bias or implicit quotas, While the possibility of discriminatory admissiony practices continues to be debated, there is general consensus that, since the mid-1970s, the number of Asian Americans applying to colleges and sognized that Asian Americans collectively represent a highly qualified group of appl sts such as Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) Math Asian American students score higher than white students, universities has nearly doubled. Further. itis re nts: in some ar At Harvard, interest in the admission of Asian American students dates back to the mid-1970s, when Asian American and other minority groups sought to increase the recruitment and admission of minority applicants. A major objective of the Harvard Asian American student group then was 10 be recognized by Harvard as a minority group, and included in the alfirmative action programs of the Admissions Office. By 1983, student concerns included their belief that stereotypes of Asian Americans held by Admissions Officers contributed to the low percentage of applicants admitted, a roups. including whites. A further concern was the small number ged backgrounds who were admitted rate below that for all other ethni of Asian Americans from disadvanta In the Spring 1987 issue of The Public Interest. Bunzel and Au suggested, based primarily on their review of published SAT scores. that the lower Asian American admission rate at institutions including Harvard could not be explained by a less qualified Asian American applicant pool. Further, they asserted that there was insufviciemt evidence that Asian American applicants scored lower on other criteria, such as extracurricular activities and other non-academic areas, which might account 2- Statement of Findings, Compliance Review 01-88-6009 for the lower admission rate. Similarly, they were not persuaded that special consideration given to certain groups of applicants, such as geographical preferences, children of alumni or faculty. or minorities sought through affirmative action programs, fully explained the disparity between white and Asian American admit rates In January 1988. Harvard. through the Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, issued a "Statement ‘on Asian American Admissions at Harvard-Radelitfe” which, in part, responded to concerns raised about “under-representation” of Asian Americans at Harvard and rumors of quotas, In light of the vigorous efforts to recruit Asian Americans, and the new record set each year of the last decade in the number of Asian American students admitted, Harvard felt that claims that the school might be limiting Asian American opportunities were unfounded. The difterence in admission rates for Asian Americans and whites, about 3.7% (13.3% vs. 17.062) over # 10 year period, including the Classes of 1982 through 1991. was explained as follows: While Asian Americans are slightly stronger than whites on academic criteria they are slightly less strong on extracurricular criteria. In addition, there are nt pool who are alumni ae children or prospective varsity athletes. When all these factors are taken into account very few Asian Americans in our applica the difference in admission rates for the two groups disappears. Those with comparable extracurricular and athletic credentials are admitted at the same rates, This is also true for Asian American alumni‘ae children. The issue of possible discrimination against Asian American applicants to selective colleges and universities came to the attention of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) from u number of sources including various individual and Asian American organizations. the multitude of media reports. and antick admissions program at Harvard were raised directly to the Department of Education (Department) contained in scholarly journals. In addition, specitie concerns about the unde and to OCR. Consequently, OCR decided to initiate @ compliance review w determine whether Harvard was complying with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the bases of race and national origin by institutions receiving Departmental funds. In this review OCR first sought to determine whether Asian Americans were admitted 10 Harvard at a significantly lower rate than whites. If true, we would then seek to explain why the disparity sxisted. and whether any explanations. or the admissions process itself. indicated discrimination a Asian Am quota issue, and also the general treatment of Asian Americans in the admissions process. ans, in violation of Tile VI. Included in our review was an examination of the all 3 Statement of Findings, Compliance Review (11-88-6009 LEGAL AND INVESTIGATIVE APPROACH ‘The regulation implementing Title VI at 34 C.F.R. Sections 100.3 (#) and (b)(2) proscribes: (a) General. No person in the United States shall on the ground of race, color, or national origin be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of. or be otherwise subjected to discrimination under any program to which this part applies. (b)(2). Specific discriminatory actions prohibited A recipient, in determining the . . . class of individuals ta whom. of the situations in which. . .. services. financial aid. other benefits, or facilities will be provided . . . or the class of individuals to be afforded an opportunity to gh contractual or participate in any such program, may not, directly oF thro other arrangements, utilize criteria or methods of administration which have the effect of subjecting individuals to discrimination because of their ra color or national origin, or have the effect of defeating or substantially impairing accomplishment of the objectives of the program as respect individuals of a particular race. color, or national origin, To assess compliance with 34 C.F.R. 1003 (a). OCR sought to determine whether Harvard treated Asian American students different'y from non-minority (white) students in its admissions process for Harvard-Radeliffe’s undergraduate program. First, we established that Asian American applicants were admitted at a significantly lower rate than white applicants, Next. we tried to ascertain whether this lower admit rate was the result of intentional discrimination. Towards this end, we reviewed Harvard's undergraduate admissions policies and procedures, us described through written documents and interviews, to understand the methods and criteria used to select applicants for an entering including any major policy or procedural changes over a ten year period of review aflectin Classes of 1983 through 1992. Specitically, we looked for any differences in the established procedures for the evaluation of Asian American applicants in comparison to white applicants In addition, OCR considered whether the admissions process was applied in the same manner to Asian American students and white students. Through interviews essed the implementation of the admissions process, including staff (reader) ratings, preference tions. Different treatment could be established. for example. if” Admissions staff gave lower ratings to Asian American than white applicants with similar records or and review of applicant files. we as categories, and committee delibe