Department of Education Has Let Asian-American Communities Down Again

By Organizing Committee, Asian American Coalition

Short Hills, New Jersey, July 8, 2015, — We are very disappointed to learn that the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), U.S. Department of Education has recently dismissed our Administrative Complaint against Harvard University filed on May 15, 2015. Even though our Complaint presented overwhelming evidences indicating that Harvard University has been engaged in continuous and systemic discriminatory practices against Asian-American applicants, OCR chose to dismiss our Complaint citing a procedural ground. The Department of Education has clearly let Asian-American communities down.

Since 2006, three Asian-American applicants have filed individual complaints regarding Ivy League Universities’ discriminatory admissions practices against Asian American applicants. However, the Department of Education has not taken any forceful action on those complaints. Two years after the filing of his administrative complaint, Michael Wang is still waiting for OCR to launch investigations against the relevant universities.

In the absence of any meaningful enforcement actions, Harvard and other Ivy League universities are still violating the civil rights of Asian-American applicants on a continuous and systematic basis. It is imperative for both the judicial and administrative branches of the federal government to take forceful measures to protect the constitutional rights of AsianAmerican applicants from continued infringement by Harvard and other universities.

So far we have not heard any feedback to the Complaint from Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice. We note that the Department of Justice usually launches a civil rights investigation in parallel with a state investigation whenever a potential civil rights issue arises. We sincerely hope the Department of Justice will treat Asian-Americans’ civil rights complaint the same way. We hereby formally request that Attorney General Loretta Lynch assemble a special task force to investigate into the continuous and systemic discriminatory practices against Asian American applicants by Harvard Universities and other higher education institutions in the country.

In May 2014, President Obama made a promise to Asian-Americans: “let us ensure the laws respect everyone, civil rights apply to everyone, and everyone who works hard and plays by the rules has a chance to get ahead.” Asian-Americans are the ones who work hard and play by the rules. It is un-American to deny us the equal protection and due process afforded to all citizens of the United States of America. We will relentlessly pursue all available legal remedies from all venues, including expanding the scope of the Complaint against Harvard.