Yeah, Harvard is Hiding Something

It now appears that Harvard University has been lying about its admissions policies for decades, and colluding with the US Department of Education to do so.

I would note that the author of this article, Josh Gerstein, is a bit of a hack IMHO, (he does work for Tiger Beat on the Potomac, after all) but the underlying facts of the lies and the coverup appear to be meticulously documented.

What he documents is a pretty good case for wypepo affirmative action at the expense of east and south Asian students:

The long war over affirmative action turned hot again last week, as Harvard and lawyers for Asian-American applicants duked it out in a federal courtroom in Boston in a closely watched case that could end consideration of race in college admissions.

I’m a veteran of that war. Nearly three decades ago, as a student, I was at the vanguard of a movement that took no side in the then-intense debate over affirmative action but advocated for something more radical than it might first appear: breaking down the secrecy over how elite colleges choose whom to admit to their ranks.

My role in that crusade also led to a federal courtroom, albeit in the kind-of-grimy, dual-purpose post office building that housed Boston’s federal court through the 1990s, not the far glitzier complex that now sits on the waterfront.

The first, brief court showdown over Harvard’s admissions policies came on October 5, 1990. The hearing, before U.S. District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock, a Reagan appointee, came on a Friday afternoon as the federal government was about to head into a shutdown over a budget standoff.

The day before, the Education Department had officially completed a two-year-long investigation into Harvard’s admissions practices—essentially the same issue now the focus of the federal trial: whether the elite school’s process discriminates against Asian-Americans.

As a reporter for the student newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, I had twice filed Freedom of Information Act requests seeking details on the Education Department probe as it became more and more drawn out. Both times they were turned down by agency officials, citing the need to protect the ongoing investigation, although the second time a lawyer working on the case promised to “tack [the request] up on the wall” and process it when the probe concluded.

Unbeknownst to us or the public, as the investigation unfolded, the feds cut a deal with Harvard to keep its records secret. The university was reluctant to hand over a data tape that would allow investigators to easily derive and correlate almost any variables involving Harvard applicants—say, the SAT scores of admitted recruited athletes or the class rank of rejected Latinos. Harvard officials cited both privacy concerns and a worry that Education Department investigators might misunderstand the information.

The secret deal gave the Education Department access to the tape and other sensitive internal Harvard information on two conditions: that the feds fight any FOIA request for the records and that they return them to Harvard at the conclusion of the investigation. (How federal employees have any right to pledge to “resist” a law duly passed by Congress is still something I find puzzling.)


The records—now tattered and yellowing from several moves and basement floods and published online here for the first time—belie some of Harvard’s key claims about its admissions process.

The university had long claimed that preferences for recruited athletes and legacies served only as a tiebreaker between applicants with “substantially equal” qualifications. Officials had also claimed that applicants who are children of alumni tend, unsurprisingly, to have better test scores and other numerical ratings than others in the pool.

It should be noted that the Ivys have, with the explicit permission of the Departments of Education and Justice, have also been colluding on financial aid awards for decades as well.

It is a corrupt edifice, and it should be shut down.

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