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Admissions Lawsuit Plaintiff Pens Letters Blasting Record Purges

Harvard acceptance letters are sealed by members of the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid prior to being mailed off.
Harvard acceptance letters are sealed by members of the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid prior to being mailed off.
By Daphne C. Thompson, Crimson Staff Writer

In response to a report that Yale Law School had decided to destroy its student admissions evaluation files, Edward Blum—the president of nonprofit membership group Students for Fair Admissions, Inc.—sent a letter Thursday to every Ivy League university president, except for Harvard’s, to object to any further deletions of student admission records.

Project on Fair Representation, a legal defense group also led by Blum, is currently suing Harvard for allegedly setting admissions quotas on students of Asian descent and engaging in “racial balancing” in its admissions process. According to Blum, Harvard did not receive a similar letter regarding admissions file destruction because it is already facing litigation and must retain all records during the lawsuit’s discovery period.

In the letter, Blum wrote that the file destruction raised concerns under the 1974 Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a Department of Education act that holds that the documents must be accessible under federal law. FERPA attracted widespread media attention in January after The New York Times reported that Stanford students had invoked it to successfully access copies of their records from the university, including written assessments and numerical scores assigned to them by admissions officers.

“It should go without saying that Yale cannot destroy evidence essential to judicial review of its admissions policies and expect to withstand strict scrutiny if and when its admissions policies are challenged in court,” the letter read.

Blum also wrote that Yale’s employment of racial consideration in admissions decisions subjects the university to legal scrutiny under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and that “this brazen attempt to avoid scrutiny of legally questionable admissions practices is precisely the wrong course of action at precisely the wrong time.”

Harvard has denied all of Blum’s allegations of race-based discrimination in its admissions process and will meet the plaintiffs of the complaint at a status conference in April.

—Staff writer Daphne C. Thompson can be reached at daphne.thompson@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @daphnectho.

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