Oct. 8 (UPI) -- The Justice Department on Thursday sued Yale University, accusing it of discriminating against White and Asian undergraduate applicants in its admissions process -- a claim the prestigious university vehemently denies.
Prosecutors accused the Ivey League institution in a complaint of employing racial discrimination practices in its admissions process for decades, with a multiyear investigation finding that Asian and White applicants have a one-eighth to one-fourth likelihood of acceptance to the school as Black applicants with comparable academic credentials.
The complaint also said that from 2010 to 2017, Yale engaged in "racial balancing" by keeping the annual percentage of Black admissions within 1 percentage point of the previous year's admitted class and 1.5 percentage points for Asian applicants.
"Illegal race discrimination by colleges and universities must end. This nation's highest ideals include the notion that we are all equal under the law," Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division said in a statement. "All persons who apply for admission to colleges and universities should expect and know that they will be judged by their character, talents and achievements and not the color of their skin. To do otherwise is to permit our institutions to foster stereotypes, bitterness and division."
The Justice Department said Yale receives $630 million in financial assistance a year from the federal government conditioned on it upholding Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which it accuses the postsecondary school of violating with its discriminatory admission practices.
Peter Salovey, president of Yale University, in a statement Thursday said the Justice Department's allegations are based on inaccurate statists and unfounded conclusions, stating in the last two decades, the percentage of admitted applicants "fluctuated significantly" among all demographics.
"I want to be clear: Yale does not discriminate against applicants of any race or ethnicity," he said. "Our admissions practices are completely fair and lawful. Yale's admissions policies will not change as a result of this baseless lawsuit."
Salovey said even if Yale just based admission on GPA alone, there would be too many qualified applicants and the university would not be best served by only looking at test scores. Its admissions process, he said, considers many aspects of an applicant's life, which does include race and ethnicity but as only one element in a multi-stage examination.
"We look forward to defending these policies in court," he said.
In August, the Justice Department accused Yale of employing racial discriminative practices following the completion of a two-year investigation that was initiated following a complaint by Asian American groups about its admissions process. The department demanded it stop using race in its upcoming undergraduate admissions cycle, or be faced with a lawsuit.
Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council of Education, called the Justice Department's lawsuit "politically motivated" coming less than a month before the Nov. 3 presidential election.
"It is profoundly disturbing that the Department of Justice has launched such an unprecedented judicial attack on one of the nation's great universities -- and by extension all of American higher education," he said in a statement. "With its action today, the Justice Department has unapologetically aligned with the repeated, failed attempts by misguided advocacy groups to prevent colleges and universities from considering race as one factor in a holistic admissions review, despite four decades of U.S. Supreme Court precedent upholding the principle that institutions have a compelling interest in student body diversity."Sign up for our daily Top News Newsletter