Oct 15, 2018

Suit alleging Harvard's admissions bias heads to trial

Harvard Yard. Photo: Getty Images

A lawsuit challenging Harvard University’s admissions practices — claiming discrimination against Asian-American applicants by holding them to a higher standard — will head to trial in a Boston federal court on Monday.

Why it matters: The case could have far-reaching consequences in college admissions at a time when the country’s polarized climate continues to stoke racial and political divisions.

The details: Officials, alumni, and students from the Ivy League school will take the stand to examine the admissions policies. Harvard, one of the most selective universities in the world, had said it does not discriminate but instead uses race as one of many factors to build classes of diverse backgrounds.

  • The case was brought by Students for Fair Admissions, a nonprofit group known for orchestrating legal challenges to affirmative action practices and voting rights laws in recent years.

What they're saying: Asian-Americans are divided on the case. Some, including groups like Asian Americans Advancing Justice, said they are being used by conservatives as a wedge to abolish affirmative action.

  • Edward Blum, the head of Students for Fair Admissions, told the Washington Post: "The cornerstone mission of [my] organization is to eliminate the use of race and ethnicity in college admissions. Period. We make no bones about that."
  • The case drew support from the Trump Justice Department, which has filed a statement of interest in the challenge, and has also recently opened inquiries into complaints of discrimination against Asian-Americans at Harvard and Yale.

The big picture: This could be a landmark case that might reach the Supreme Court, which upheld a race-conscious admissions program at the University of Texas at Austin in 2016. In that case, a white student whom Blum recruited to sue the university said she was discriminated against because of her race and UT's affirmative action policies.

Go deeper: The cracks in the college admissions system.

Go deeper

George Floyd updates

Protesters gather north of Lafayette Square near the White House during a demonstration against racism and police brutality, in Washington, D.C. on Saturday evening. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Tens of thousands of demonstrators have been rallying in cities across the U.S. and around the world to protest the killing of George Floyd. Huge crowds assembled in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Chicago for full-day events on Saturday.

Why it matters: Twelve days of nationwide protest in the U.S. has built pressure for states to make changes on what kind of force law enforcement can use on civilians and prompted officials to review police conduct. A memorial service was held for Floyd in Raeford, North Carolina, near where he was born. Gov. Roy Cooper ordered all flags to fly at half-staff to honor him until sunset.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 p.m. ET: 6,889,889 — Total deaths: 399,642 — Total recoveries — 3,085,326Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 p.m. ET: 1,920,061 — Total deaths: 109,802 — Total recoveries: 500,849 — Total tested: 19,778,873Map.
  3. Public health: Why the pandemic is hitting minorities harder — Coronavirus curve rises in FloridaHow racism threatens the response to the pandemic Some people are drinking and inhaling cleaning products in attempt to fight the virus.
  4. Tech: The pandemic is accelerating next-generation disease diagnostics — Robotics looks to copy software-as-a-service model.
  5. Business: Budgets busted by coronavirus make it harder for cities to address inequality Sports, film production in California to resume June 12 after 3-month hiatus.
  6. Education: Students and teachers flunked remote learning.
Updated 7 hours ago - World

In photos: People around the world rally against racism

Despite a ban on large gatherings implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic, protesters rally against racism in front of the American Embassy in Paris on June 6. Photo: Julien Mattia/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Tens of thousands of people have continued to rally in cities across the world against racism and show their support this week for U.S. demonstrators protesting the death in police custody of George Floyd.

Why it matters: The tense situation in the U.S. has brought the discussion of racism and discrimination onto the global stage at a time when most of the world is consumed by the novel coronavirus.