Republican members of Congress are calling for the president of Yale University to testify at this week’s hearing on discrimination against Asian Americans, with the GOP contending that the alleged discriminatory admissions policies by top U.S. colleges need to be part of the discussion.
The Democrat-led House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties is slated to hold a hearing to examine violence and discrimination against Asian Americans on Thursday morning, and four GOP members said the hearing should also examine how colleges treat Asian American applicants.
“Racially motivated violence and discrimination against Asian Americans is wrong, plain and simple,” the GOP letter obtained by the Washington Examiner said. “As the Subcommittee convenes this hearing, it must also consider the serious allegations that our nation’s elite universities discriminate against Asian Americans in the universities’ admissions processes. We therefore request that you also ask the President of Yale University to testify so that the Subcommittee Members may examine to what extent Yale’s admissions processes discriminate against Asian Americans.”
The letter was signed by Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Mike Johnson, ranking member on the subcommittee, and Reps. Michelle Steel and Young Kim, both newly elected, South Korean-born congresswomen representing parts of Orange County, California. It was sent to Democratic House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler and the head of the subcommittee, Rep. Steve Cohen, on Tuesday.
In February, the Justice Department dropped a case against Yale University that accused the Ivy League school of discriminating against white and Asian applicants in its admissions process, marking a significant reversal from just a few months ago under the Trump administration.
The Justice Department had announced a lawsuit against Yale University for alleged discrimination on the basis of race and national origin in October, arguing that the discriminatory admissions practices imposed “undue and unlawful penalties on racially-disfavored applicants, including in particular most Asian and White applicants.” Yale denied the allegations.
The Trump DOJ said a multiyear investigation “found Yale discriminates based on race and national origin in its undergraduate admissions process, and that race is the determinative factor in hundreds of admissions decisions each year.” It specifically alleged that “Yale rejects scores of Asian American and White applicants each year based on their race, whom it otherwise would admit.”
“The discrimination against Asian Americans in educational admissions processes is unfortunately not limited to elite universities,” the Republicans said in their letter. “In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio effectively denied low-income Asian American children access to advanced educational opportunities at specialized high schools.”
In early March, the Justice Department held a listening session with more than a dozen Asian American and Pacific Islander community groups.
“The Department of Justice and our component agencies are committed to bringing all of our tools to bear in supporting AAPI communities as we address the horrific rise in hate and bias incidents occurring across the country,” acting Deputy Attorney General John Carlin said.
An executive order signed by President Biden purported to address the problem of discrimination against Asian Americans.
“The Attorney General shall explore opportunities to support, consistent with applicable law, the efforts of State and local agencies, as well as AAPI communities and community-based organizations, to prevent discrimination, bullying, harassment, and hate crimes against AAPI individuals, and to expand collection of data and public reporting regarding hate incidents against such individuals,” Biden declared in a memo a few days after his January inauguration.
The GOP letter pointed to an op-ed by Yukong Zhao, the president of the Asian American Coalition for Education.
“If Biden is sincere in that promise, then he should be making the severe and persistent discrimination against Asian Americans in college admissions a top priority,” Zhao said of Biden’s executive order. “Instead, his DOJ has abandoned the government’s effort to hold Yale accountable for its part in the problem.”
The Justice Department’s lawsuit in October argued that “for the last few decades, Yale’s oversized, standardless, intentional use of race has subjected domestic, non-transfer applicants to Yale College to discrimination on the ground of race.” DOJ investigators alleged that Yale’s practices violated Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Yale University President Peter Salovey pushed back against the DOJ’s claims in October, saying, “Our admissions practices are completely fair and lawful. Yale’s admissions policies will not change as a result of the filing of this baseless lawsuit. We look forward to defending these policies in court.”
In September 2018, when the Justice Department initiated its inquiry, Salovey wrote an open letter to the Yale community “to state unequivocally that Yale does not discriminate in admissions against Asian Americans or any other racial or ethnic group.”
A federal appeals court ruled in favor of Harvard University in a similar case in November, upholding a 2019 district court ruling that found the school’s affirmative action admissions policies did not violate national civil rights laws. The group Students for Fair Admissions brought a lawsuit against Harvard in 2014, alleging that the school’s leaders “have employed and are employing racially and ethnically discriminatory policies” against Asian Americans.
The group appealed its case to the Supreme Court in February.
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