Students, counselors reflect the Harvard Affirmative Action Case

Viyang Hao

Earlier this year, a group of Asian-Americans filed a lawsuit against Harvard University and its admissions office, claiming its admissions process was discriminated against Asian-Americans. The federal judge who oversaw this case recently announced that there was little discrimination towards Asian Americans in Harvard’s application process. 

Before the lawsuit verdict, sophomore Manasa Kesa said she wanted to apply to Harvard as she found the school best fit her goal of having a career in law. However, the judge’s decision made Kesa lose “some hope” in applying to the school. 

“I mean, I’m still gonna apply because I need to have a prestigious college or I probably won’t succeed in law,” Kesa said. 

Despite the ruling, she still saw the Harvard case as one of “racial discrimination” against Asian-Americans, which she said placed higher standards on Asian-Americans to be admitted.

“What Harvard is doing is racial discrimination,” Kesa said. “They’re making higher standards for Asian students which means that Asian students don’t get the equal opportunities that other races get and that’s a violation of Title IX (a law stating there cannot be any discrimination because of sex, race, orientation, etc, in an educational sitting).” 

But Iris Yan, applicant to Harvard and senior, disagrees with Kesa. To Yan, the Harvard lawsuit does not affect her opinion on Harvard. 

“I feel like in general, in some ways, (the end result of the lawsuit) is a problem but it’s something that I shouldn’t be personally involved (in) since (something like this) is something that I’ve come to terms with,” Yan said.

According to Melinda Stephan, college and careers programming and resources coordinator, this case, helps students become more aware of the complex nature of the college application process. 

“I think (the case) brought to the forefront how complicated the (application) process is and really how unscientific (the process) is. And that’s the problem,” Stephan said.

Stephan said although a lot of applicants to Harvard may be or are qualified to be admitted to the college, not all of them can get in because “that’s not how the world works.”

“You know,” she added, “a lot of students go into this process, whether it’s Harvard or not, (and they think), ‘I’m a really good student, I have strong grades, I’ve taken hard classes, and I have good test scores, I should get in.’ But the problem with schools like Harvard, is that you have far more people in that same situation… but (all those people) can’t get in.”

According to Yan, she said she thinks students have started to stray away from applying to Harvard or other Ivy League schools, and have started applying to other schools like Stanford or other highly-ranked universities in the United States.

“Despite Harvard being my best suit for college, I know there are various non-Ivy League schools that are amazing that would be great for me as well,” Kesa said.