In Other Ivory Towers: Judge sides with Harvard in affirmative action suit

Joey Fox

In Other Ivory Towers is the Record’s look at colleges and universities outside the Purple Bubble.

Federal District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs ruled on Oct. 1 that Harvard University’s admission process does not illegally discriminate against Asian-American applicants, in what The New York Times called “one of the biggest legal challenges to affirmative action in years.”

Following a bench trial, Burroughs ruled on four claims made in the lawsuit, which was filed against Harvard in 2014: that Harvard intentionally discriminated against Asian-Americans, that race served as the main factor in its admissions decisions, that it deliberately racially balanced its classes and that it did not exhaust other race-neutral measures before considering race in its decisions.

In a 130-page decision, Burroughs determined that the university was not responsible for any of the four counts. Her ruling affirmed race’s place in admissions decisions for the time being, writing that “diversity will foster the tolerance, acceptance and understanding that will ultimately make race conscious admissions obsolete.”

The plaintiff in the case was Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), run by conservative political strategist Edward Blum and representing several Asian-American students who were not admitted to Harvard. 

Though he was not among those students, Michael Wang ’17 was involved in the case and served as an unofficial spokesperson for SFFA. Wang told the Record in 2018 that he was rejected from Princeton, Stanford and Yale despite boasting a 4.67 GPA, a perfect ACT score, and several impressive extracurriculars (“Michael Wang ’17 takes part in advocacy related to anti-Asian discrimination lawsuit,” Oct. 17, 2018).