Harvard University has agreed to turn over documents requested by the Justice Department in its investigation of alleged discrimination against Asian American applicants, reports the New York Times.
The confidential documents contain both applicant and student records. The university agreed to turn them over if the DOJ reviewed them only at the offices of Harvard lawyers to prevent the records from being leaked to the general public.
“The Department of Justice takes seriously any potential violation of an individual’s civil and constitutional rights,” the DOJ said in a statement. “We are pleased that Harvard today indicated it too takes this matter seriously and has presented a potential path forward. The Department is reviewing the university’s response and declines comment at this time.”
The investigation against Harvard follows complaints from some Asian American groups that qualified Asian American applicants are passed over for less qualified Black, White and Hispanic applicants. Those complaints are extremely controversial in the Asian American community, with the overwhelming majority of established Asian American civil rights groups standing in support of affirmative action in higher education.
The former head of the Civil Rights division under the Obama administration told CBS News the investigation is “unprecedented.”
“The Justice Department clearly seems to be trying to tee up another case for the Supreme Court,” said Gupta, an Indian American. “It looks like right now that they are looking for a sympathetic, attractive group of plaintiffs - here it’s Asian Americans students who’ve been denied admission at Harvard - and to try to drive a wedge among communities of color by kind of pitting Asian Americans against African American and Hispanic students.
“Despite a lot of these programs, Blacks and Hispanics are underrepresented in colleges and universities today even more so than they were in 1980,” Gupta said.