After a complaint was filed earlier this month by the Greater Boston Latino Network, the federal Education Department is investigating Harvard for possible Civil Rights Act violations.
At issue is whether the university's legacy admissions practice, basically making it easier for children or relatives of alumni to gain entry to Harvard, is unfair. The Boston group says that legacy admissions create a systemic disadvantage for applicants of color, which has been echoed by the NAACP, which called for an end to the practice after the Supreme Court struck down affirmative action on campuses.
President Joe Biden, who was opposed to the Supreme Court ruling, has also spoken out against legacy admissions, saying that these practices "expand privilege instead of opportunity."
The investigation is ongoing, the Education Department has only said that it is looking into the situation of whether the university violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin for any program that receives federal assistance from the Department of Education. The advocacy group that prompted the probe says there's no educational necessity or goal that legacy admissions can justify. "To the contrary, the preferential treatment is conferred without regard to the applicant’s credentials or merits — the benefit is derived simply from being born into a particular family," the filing says.
The filing also points out that 70 percent of Harvard's donor-related and legacy college applicants are white.
The university responded with a statement that read, in part: "Harvard remains dedicated to opening doors to opportunity and to redoubling our efforts to encourage students from many different backgrounds to apply for admission."