The Justice Department has dropped a lawsuit against Yale University alleging that the Ivy League school discriminates against Asian and white applicants.
The move was announced in a filing in federal district court in Connecticut, and marked a reversal from the DOJ position during the Trump administration. The DOJ concluded a two-year investigation of Yale’s admissions process in August 2020.
Yale “rejects scores of Asian American and white applicants each year based on their race, whom it otherwise would admit,” former Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, then head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, wrote in a letter. Asian and white applicants have “only one-tenth to one-fourth of the likelihood of admission as African American applicants with comparable academic credentials.”
Yale has denied discriminating against applicants, and on Wednesday welcomed the DOJ’s decision to drop the case.
“Our admissions process has allowed Yale College to assemble an unparalleled student body, which is distinguished by its academic excellence and diversity,” university spokeswoman Karen Peart maintained in a statement. “Yale has steadfastly maintained that its process complies fully with Supreme Court precedent, and we are confident that the Justice Department will agree.”
Under the Trump administration, the DOJ also filed an amicus brief in support of a group of Asian students suing Harvard University for alleged discrimination. A federal appeals court ultimately ruled in favor of Harvard.
“The parties disputed the statistical evidence extensively, but one point should be common ground: Asian-American applicants have become a casualty of Harvard’s efforts to boost members of other races,” the DOJ said in a February 2020 filing.
Additionally, the Department of Education opened its own investigation into Princeton University in September 2020, after university president Christopher Eisgruber published an open letter claiming that “racist assumptions” are “embedded in structures of the University itself.” The Education Department subsequently claimed that Princeton’s “admitted racism” could place the university in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits federal financial assistance to any program engaged in racially discriminatory practices.