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    #244103 - 10/16/18 12:17 PM Harvard admissions lawsuit
    Bostonian Offline

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 2614
    Loc: MA
    On the first day of trial, the plaintiffs have already demonstrated that Harvard has discriminated on the basis of race, with different PSAT thresholds by race for recruiting students.

    Harvard Admissions Chief Defends Policies in First Day of Trial
    Plaintiffs use internal documents to show different test scores used to target different ethnicities for recruitment
    By Nicole Hong and Melissa Korn
    Updated Oct. 15, 2018 11:27 p.m. ET
    Wall Street Journal

    BOSTON—Harvard University’s longtime admissions dean defended the school’s recruitment of prospective students in the first day of a landmark trial accusing Harvard of discriminating against Asian-American applicants.

    On Monday, lawyers for the plaintiffs focused on internal documents showing Harvard sends targeted letters to high-school students who score well on the PSAT, encouraging them to consider applying to the prestigious school. The score thresholds vary by race.

    In a recent admissions year, white students in 20 underrepresented states—which Harvard calls “sparse country”—received a recruitment letter if they scored 1310 or higher out of a possible 1600 on the combined verbal and math components, according to the plaintiffs’ exhibit. In all U.S. states, Asian-American women had to score at least 1350 to receive a letter, while Asian-American men had to score at least 1380.

    The PSAT is considered a preview of how a student may score on the SAT.

    Black, Hispanic and Native American high-schoolers nationally who scored at least 1100 received a letter, the plaintiffs’ exhibit showed.

    Students who qualify for these letters are twice as likely to be admitted as students who don’t qualify, according to a handbook provided to Harvard’s alumni interviewers.

    William Fitzsimmons, Harvard’s admissions dean since 1986, defended the policy by saying the letters to white students in more rural states help the school recruit from areas where students may be less aware of Harvard. “We do everything we can to reach out to a much broader range of people,” he testified.

    Mr. Fitzsimmons, 74 years old, said the lower thresholds for underrepresented minorities take into consideration how the “rather stark economic differences and opportunities” those students face may affect their ability to score higher on standardized tests.


    #244105 - 10/17/18 08:11 AM Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit [Re: Bostonian]
    Bostonian Offline

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 2614
    Loc: MA
    Here is an article about the second day of the trial. Colleges have the right to weigh personality alongside academic credentials, but I do wonder if students should be accepted based in part on perceptions of "unusual effervescence" (a quote from the article). Someone who is reserved but studious could still make good contributions to class discussions.

    Harvard Cites Weaker Teacher Recommendations for Asian-American Applicants
    Oct. 16, 2018 4:17 p.m. ET
    Wall Street Journal

    BOSTON—Harvard’s admissions dean testified Tuesday that weaker teacher and guidance-counselor recommendations are one reason why Asian-American applicants as a group score lower than white applicants in the “personal rating” portion of the school’s admissions process.

    The rating, which assesses an applicant’s personal qualities, has been a central focus for the plaintiffs in a trial that began Monday accusing Harvard of intentionally discriminating against Asian-Americans. Harvard’s own data show Asian-American applicants as a group score higher than white applicants in academics and extracurriculars, but lower in the personal rating.

    William Fitzsimmons, who has been Harvard’s admissions dean since 1986, said in federal court Tuesday that the lower rating wasn’t due to Asian-American applicants having fewer attractive personal qualities than white applicants. He said one reason for the gap could be due to “somewhat stronger” teacher and guidance-counselor recommendations given to white applicants.

    He said he didn’t know if Asian-American applicants had weaker recommendations than African-American or Hispanic applicants. The plaintiffs say Asian-Americans have the lowest personal scores of any racial group.

    U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs, an Obama appointee, will decide after the three-week trial whether Harvard’s admissions practices violate federal civil-rights law. Whether the judge accepts Mr. Fitzsimmons’s explanation could play a role in her decision. Harvard says its policies adhere to Supreme Court precedents.

    The trial stems from a lawsuit filed in 2014 by Students for Fair Admissions, a nonprofit whose members include Asian-Americans rejected by Harvard. Lawyers for the plaintiffs have pushed Harvard to explain the racial gap in personal ratings, which they say is evidence of intentional discrimination. Harvard has said admissions officers don’t consider race in the personal rating.

    The rating, according to Harvard, uses teacher recommendations, alumni interviews and student essays to consider whether an applicant will be a good roommate or could contribute to the campus community. Harvard’s admissions procedures ask readers to look for “consistent testimony of an applicant’s unusual effervescence, charity, maturity, or strength of character."

    A chart displayed during Harvard’s opening statement showed teacher recommendations and alumni interviewer ratings matter much more in admissions decisions than race does.

    The school has stressed throughout the litigation that each applicant is reviewed independently, and patterns across racial or ethnic groups aren’t the result of any broader discriminatory practice.

    The gap between white and Asian-American applicants’ personal ratings was also cited in a 1990 report by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, which investigated Harvard for similar complaints. The report, referenced at length in Tuesday’s testimony, found Harvard didn’t discriminate against Asian-American applicants, but flagged racial stereotypes reflected in admissions officers’ comments.

    Harvard’s admissions readers, who evaluate students’ applications, “quite often” described Asian-American applicants as shy, science- and math-oriented, and hard workers, the report said. One reader, for instance, wrote of an applicant: “He’s quiet and, of course, wants to be a doctor.”

    #244106 - 10/17/18 08:52 AM Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit [Re: Bostonian]
    Thomas Percy Offline

    Registered: 11/18/12
    Posts: 206
    Yep, one type of applicants were discriminated against for sure, the introverts.

    #244107 - 10/17/18 09:13 AM Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit [Re: Bostonian]
    ruazkaz Offline

    Registered: 08/23/12
    Posts: 128
    From what I have read, it seems at least two types of applicants were discriminated against, the introverts and the Asians...

    #244113 - 10/17/18 12:55 PM Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit [Re: ruazkaz]
    Val Offline

    Registered: 09/01/07
    Posts: 3290
    Loc: California
    College admissions should be based strictly on merit. Other systems (Ireland, France, Switzerland, China, and so on) work this way. Admissions are completely transparent:

    1. Take test.

    2. If you want to study [subject] you must score above [number]. See newspaper on [date] for complete list of subjects and required scores. Letter to follow.

    There is no consideration of extracurricular activities, sex, race/ethnicity, parental alumni or donations etc. Prince William had to get the same minimum score as everyone else on his A levels to study whatever it was at St. Andrews (though some UK universities seem to be moving toward interviews). A guy I knew whose daddy had a big job at my college had to get the scores, too (the faculty even checked his results to make sure no one was cheating).

    I understand that people have been discriminated against in this country, and that this fact is used to justify biased admissions. But this approach just creates new ways to discriminate, which of course is being laid bare this week.

    If people really, really want to fix the problem, we need to start with a living minimum wage (reduces stress at home), better social safety net programs (so people don't have to choose between rent, medicine, and food), and of course, better K-12 schools.

    The idea to refuse admission to qualifying students in NYC high schools is a perfect example of destroying a completely transparent admission process in order to introduce discrimination. It's wrong.

    On a rambling tangent, I'll admit that I wonder why a relatively unprepared student would even want to go to those schools. The work load is insane. Better to send them to a Middle College, which is a dual enrollment program that exposes students to college classes free of charge while at home. My eldest got a free AS through MC, followed by a nice scholarship offer that made a private college cheaper than a state U. My next son is at MC, learning the chemistry that he didn't learn at his previous high school. There, chemistry was taught by a person with a degree in early childhood development. But she was a "highly qualified and certified teacher," unlike his chem professor, who just has a silly PhD in chemistry and 2 other science degrees.

    #244114 - 10/17/18 01:37 PM Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit [Re: Bostonian]
    mecreature Offline

    Registered: 03/14/11
    Posts: 357
    I agree with Val on this.

    What is the benchmark?
    There can be a few considerations but that can sort out the bottom of the list.

    #244118 - 10/17/18 03:01 PM Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit [Re: Bostonian]
    Bostonian Offline

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 2614
    Loc: MA
    Day 3:

    Harvard Admissions Dean Largely Ignored Report on Factors Affecting Asian-American Applicants
    Asian-Americans would comprise 43% of the freshman class if admission hinged solely on academics
    By Melissa Korn
    Wall Street Journal
    Updated Oct. 17, 2018 4:18 p.m. ET

    BOSTON—Were admission to Harvard based solely on academic merit, Asian-Americans would comprise 43% of the freshman class, while African-Americans would make up less than 1%, according to an internal Harvard report discussed at a trial here Wednesday.

    Lawyers representing a nonprofit that has sued the school alleging intentional discrimination against Asian-American applicants dug deep into the internal 2013 study in court. In the process, they highlighted whether some criteria Harvard uses to assess candidates put Asian-American candidates at a disadvantage and how little the admissions dean did with the data when he received the report five years ago.

    U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs will decide after the three-week trial whether Harvard’s admissions practices violate federal civil-rights law.

    The internal study, conducted by Harvard’s Office of Institutional Research and labeled as preliminary, simulated what the admitted class would look like depending on which factors Harvard’s admissions office considered. The upshot: Asian-Americans fared best when the class was crafted based on academics alone. The share of Asian-Americans shrinks to 31.4% when recruited athletes and the children of Harvard graduates are factored in. When extracurricular and personal ratings also come into play, the share of Asian-Americans drops to 26%.

    Asian-Americans were the only racial or ethnic group to see a decrease in their projected class representation with the inclusion of extra-curriculars and personal ratings.

    Most elite schools consider a range of factors when determining admissions, in part because most applicants have stellar grades and test scores and are relatively indistinguishable on academics alone. The schools say they look at candidates in a holistic manner to ensure they have a good mix of students from different backgrounds, who can then learn from one another inside and outside the classroom.

    The report shows that the actual admitted-student population, which also considers race, gender and other factors not in the internal simulations, was 18.7% Asian-American and 10.5% African-American combined across the decade that was reviewed.


    #244121 - 10/17/18 06:30 PM Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit [Re: Bostonian]
    madeinuk Offline

    Registered: 03/18/13
    Posts: 1453
    Loc: NJ
    I agree with Val. Admission based on merit alone ought to be a no brainer. Still cannot fully comprehend how anything but that would be the fairest policy.

    People scoring on the SAT/ACT/GRE at an only a slightly above average level for the general population really should not be accepted into top flight schools period.
    Become what you are

    #244130 - 10/18/18 08:28 AM Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit [Re: Bostonian]
    stemfun Offline

    Registered: 01/23/12
    Posts: 100
    I agree with Val, no teacher recommendations or alumni interviews should be considered (too subjective). Merit only all the way - no legacy, athlete, donations, race, sex, extracurricular activities etc should be considered. It is ridiculous to say 'no' to one subjective or unfair measure and yet accept others.

    Of course all this requires a test that distinguishes among top scorers SAT/ACT does not do this effectively when there are only few spots available, so how about asking for combinations of SAT/ACT, SAT Subject Tests and AP test scores?

    #244131 - 10/18/18 08:37 AM Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit [Re: Val]
    stemfun Offline

    Registered: 01/23/12
    Posts: 100
    Originally Posted By: Val
    If people really, really want to fix the problem, we need to start with a living minimum wage (reduces stress at home), better social safety net programs (so people don't have to choose between rent, medicine, and food), and of course, better K-12 schools.

    The idea to refuse admission to qualifying students in NYC high schools is a perfect example of destroying a completely transparent admission process in order to introduce discrimination. It's wrong.

    Agreed, the real solution is to provide equal opportunity to all by providing all that Val outlined above, including affordable prep schools in all neighborhoods and better parent 'education' for all so that everyone realizes what to do outside school to give each child a fair shot.

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