Asian American applicants are supposedly failing to get into Harvard University partly because of weaker recommendations suggested by a school official.
On the second day of trial of the high-profile lawsuit alleging that the university discriminates on the basis of race, Harvard’s Dean of Admissions, William Fitzsimmons testified that White applicants had “somewhat stronger” recommendations than their Asian American counterparts.
“The strength of the teacher recommendations and counselor recommendations for Whites is somewhat stronger than those for Asian Americans,” Fitzsimmons said.
In a 2009 article for the New York Times, Fitzsimmons noted that “intellectual imagination,”“strength of character” and the “ability to exercise good judgment” are critical factors assessed outside an applicant’s report card.
“Students’ intellectual imagination, strength of character, and their ability to exercise good judgment — these are critical factors in the admissions process, and they are revealed not by test scores but by students’ activities outside the classroom, the testimony of teachers and guidance counselors, and by alumni/ae and staff interview reports.”
The anti-affirmative action case, filed by the Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) in 2014, accuses Harvard of favoring Black and Hispanic applicants over Asian Americans in admissions to maintain campus diversity.
After reviewing over 160,000 student records, the organization found that Asian American applicants scored lower on traits such as “positive personality,” likability, courage, kindness and being “widely respected,” the New York Times reported in June.
The dean also denied stereotyping practices in his office. “We do not endorse, we abhor stereotypical comments. This is not part of our process. This is not who I am, and this is not who are admissions committee members are.”
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