Harvard Admission Scandal Settled

In one of the most closely watched lawsuits concerning affirmative action and higher education, a federal judge on Tuesday ruled that Harvard could continue considering race in its admissions process in pursuit of a diverse class.

In 2014, a group called Students for Fair Admissions filed a lawsuit arguing that the university is illegally discriminating against Asian-American applicants to allow more Black and Hispanic students in. 

Harvard denies its being discriminatory, but the university says it does consider race in admissions because it wants a diverse student body.

U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs rejected a plaintiff’s claims that Harvard violates the law as it considers race in selecting an incoming freshman class. While Harvard’s "admissions process may be imperfect," Burroughs wrote, the judge concluded that Harvard "narrowly tailored" its use of race in admissions to achieve the benefits of a diverse class.

"The use of race benefits certain racial and ethnic groups that would otherwise be underrepresented at Harvard and is therefore neither an illegitimate use of race or reflective of racial prejudice," Burroughs wrote.

Overall, the judge recognized that the admissions process at Harvard remains flawed, but there was no pattern in stereotyping Asian-Americans. Another major takeaway for Harvard and other universities is that "race-neutral alternatives" are not sufficient.

Although this seems to be a victory for underrepresented minorities on college campuses, many are weary that this case will continue on to the Supreme Court. 

If the ruling is appealed and makes its way up to the Supreme Court – which has a solidly conservative majority – it could impact a decades-old ruling on affirmative action.