DOJ Finds Yale in Violation of the Civil Rights Act

In a letter sent today, the United States Department of Justice notified Yale University that it had “violated, and is continuing to violate, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 … by discriminating on the basis of race and national origin … in its undergraduate admissions.” In addition to noting that “Yale’s discrimination is long-standing and ongoing,” here are some highlights from the letter [emphasis added]:

Yale grants substantial, and often determinative, preferences based on race to certain racially-favored applicants and relatively and significantly disfavors other applicants because of their race. Yale’s race discrimination imposes undue and unlawful penalties on racially-disfavored applicants, including in particular Asian American and White applicants. For example, the likelihood of admission for Asian American and White applicants who have similar academic credentials is significantly lower than for African American and Hispanic applicants to Yale College. For the great majority of applicants, Asian American and White applicants have only one-tenth to one-fourth of the likelihood of admission as African American applicants with comparable academic credentials. …

Every year from 2000 to 2017, Yale offered admission to Asian American applicants to Yale College at rates below their proportion of the applicant pool. During this same 18-year period, Yale offered admission to White applicants at rates below their proportion of the applicant pool in a majority of years. And, every year during the same 18-year period, Yale admitted applicants to Yale College from Yale’s preferred racial groups at rates higher than their representation in the applicant pool. …

Yale’s race discrimination dates back more than four decades, to at least the 1970s, and Yale’s race discrimination contains no time limits. Instead, it appears that Yale intends to continue discriminating on the basis of race, apparently in perpetuity. Indeed, Yale admits that it intends to continue its race-based admissions process for the “foreseeable future.” …

Yale must agree not to use race or national origin in its upcoming 2020-2021 undergraduate admissions cycle, and, if Yale proposes to consider race or national origin in future admissions cycles, it must first submit to the Department of Justice a plan demonstrating that its proposal is narrowly tailored as required by law. Any such proposal should include an end date to Yale’s use of race.

Please be advised that if Yale does not agree to this remedial measure by August 27, 2020, we may determine that “compliance cannot be secured by voluntary means.” … If we make that determination, the Department will be prepared to file a lawsuit to enforce Yale’s Title VI obligations.

It’s inconceivable that Yale will agree to do what DOJ demands. Instead, it will initiate a long and expensive lawsuit, and more or less everyone in academia and the media will cheer it on. Nevertheless, as legal scholar Amy Wax explained in a recent book review, the language of Title VI is perfectly clear. Like virtually every other institution of higher education in the country (including its arch-rival Harvard), Yale has been illegally discriminating against white and Asian applicants for years. It’s gratifying that federal agents are finally making an effort to enforce the law against these well-heeled and well-connected offenders.

Jon Guze / Director of Legal Studies

Jon Guze is the Director of Legal Studies at the John Locke Foundation. Before joining the John Locke Foundation, Jon practiced law in Durham, North Carolina for over twent...

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