A long list of Asian-American groups plans on Monday to call for federal investigations of Brown University, Dartmouth College, and Yale University for alleged discrimination in admissions.
The Asian American Coalition for Education, consisting of more than 100 local, state, and national Asian-American organizations, intends to ask the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the three institutions. Its letter of complaint to the two federal agencies also asks them to require colleges throughout the Ivy League to cease an array of admissions practices that, it argues, unlawfully discriminate against Asian-American applicants.
The coalition’s letter says Asian-American enrollment has remained basically flat at Brown and Yale over the last 20 years, and at Dartmouth over the last 10, even though the number of highly qualified Asian-American students applying to the three institutions “has increased dramatically.” It argues: “The most rational conclusion supported by overwhelming empirical evidence is that the Ivy League colleges actively discriminate against Asian-Americans and that such discrimination is ongoing.”
The complaint, made available to The Chronicle in advance of its formal release, urges the Education Department and the Justice Department to require Brown, Dartmouth, and Yale to eliminate or limit their consideration of race in admissions, curtail their use of subjective admissions criteria, and disclose the qualifications of their applicant pools.
Officials at the three colleges -- Brian E. Clark of Brown, Diana Lawrence of Dartmouth, and Thomas Conroy of Yale -- on Friday said their institutions would not comment on the complaint until after it had been formally announced and made available to them.
Asian-Americans and organizations that represent them have filed similar federal complaints against selective colleges several times over the past 30 years, but the Education Department’s investigations have never resulted in findings that the institutions deliberately discriminated against Asian-American applicants. Last year, for example, the department’s civil-rights office cleared Princeton University of accusations of anti-Asian-American bias after determining that its admissions policy does not consider race any more than is allowed under the Supreme Court precedents dealing with affirmative action.
The civil-rights office last year dismissed a separate discrimination complaint against Harvard University because it is the subject of a lawsuit in federal court accusing it of anti-Asian bias. Federal courts have put off deliberations in the Harvard case, and in a similar lawsuit involving alleged discrimination against Asian-American applicants by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, until the Supreme Court hands down its pending decision in a legal challenge to the race-conscious undergraduate admissions policy at the University of Texas at Austin.
Asian-American groups are divided on the subject of race-conscious admissions, with some filing briefs in support of the University of Texas and others expressing support for the white woman who is suing it in the case pending before the Supreme Court.