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The steps of Widener Library at Harvard University. Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images

Last week, Students for Fair Admissions, a group representing Asian-American students suing Harvard for bias, filed documents that revealed that the university consistently rated Asian students lower on traits like likability, courage and kindness, reports the New York Times.

The big picture: Universities' admissions processes have long been criticized for their lack of transparency, and as admission rates at elite institutions continue to fall, colleges are under increasing pressure to justify decisions and eliminate biases.

Asian-American students are discriminated against in college admissions, per Students for Fair Admissions.

  • An analysis of over 160,000 student records found that Harvard gave Asian-American applicants lower ratings than applicants of other races on "positive personality" and being "widely respected."
  • "Asian-Americans scored higher than applicants of any other racial or ethnic group on admissions measures like test scores, grades and extracurricular activities, according to the analysis commissioned by [Students for Fair Admissions]. But the students’ personal ratings significantly dragged down their chances of being admitted, the analysis found," per the Times.
  • Rates of Asian students at other Ivy League universities have also stayed relatively constant for years, despite changes in applicant pools, and critics say this is due to unspoken quotas.
  • “It turns out that the suspicions of Asian-American alumni, students and applicants were right all along," Students for Fair Admissions said.

Schools are abandoning standardized testing, saying scores are imperfect measures of aptitude.

  • The University of Chicago last week became the first top 10 school to get rid of the SAT and ACT in its admissions process.
  • "Studies have found a strong link between scores and economic background. Privileged students, with wider access to books, museums, tutors and other forms of cultural or academic enrichment, tend to get higher marks," reports the Washington Post.

What they're saying:

  • Harvard disagreed with Students for Fair Admissions' conclusion and said its analysis of its own process revealed no discrimination. The university compared this case to Fisher v. University of Texas, in which a white student claimed she was discriminated against because of her race and UT's affirmative action policies. The Supreme Court ruled in UT's favor.
  • UChicago's dean of admissions, James Nondorf, told the Post that “testing is not the be-all and the end-all," and that he doesn't want "one little test score ... scaring off" worthy applicants.

Go deeper

Cuomo asks New York AG and chief judge to choose "independent" investigator into sexual harassment claims

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at a press conference on Feb. 24. Photo: Seth Wenig/pool/AFP via Getty Images

A special counselor to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement on Sunday asking the state's attorney general and chief judge to jointly pick an "independent and qualified lawyer in private practice without political affiliation" to investigate claims of sexual harassment against the governor.

The state of play: The statement is an about-face from Cuomo, who had previously selected a former judge close to a top aide to lead the investigation, the New York Times reported, a move that was widely criticized.

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.