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DOJ Investigation Finds Yale Discriminating Against Applicants On The Basis Of Race

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The Justice Department is accusing Yale University of discriminating against Asian American and white applicants based on their race. The DOJ has spent years investigating the way Yale handles undergraduate admissions. I should note that I graduated from Yale. In a statement, the school denies the allegations and says it won't change its admissions practices. Melissa Korn writes about higher education for The Wall Street Journal and joins us now.

Welcome.

MELISSA KORN: Thanks for having me.

SHAPIRO: What led to this Justice Department investigation of the Yale admissions process?

KORN: The investigation, which started in 2018, was actually based off of a complaint that was filed by a group of Asian Americans, alleging that Yale was discriminating against Asian Americans in admissions in holding them to a higher standard and not admitting them at the rates they should be admitted based on their academic credentials.

SHAPIRO: And what was the response from Yale? I mean, they deny these allegations from the Justice Department. What's their version of the story?

KORN: Right, so Yale says that they have a holistic admissions review process, that they look at academics as well as extracurriculars, leadership, an applicant's background and race. And race is part of that but certainly not the determinative factor. It's one of many elements that goes into the decision-making process. So Yale has said that they're not going to change their policies, their practices right now, even though the Department of Justice said in its letter today that Yale needed to make some changes and not consider race or if it's going to consider race, set an end date for when it would stop considering race. And if it didn't within two weeks, then the Justice Department could file a lawsuit, so it seems that we're heading toward litigation.

SHAPIRO: And is this bigger than Yale University? Is this about race-based admissions and affirmative action nationally?

KORN: Absolutely. This is kind of part of a growing and escalating attention that the Trump administration is paying to race in college admissions. They've supported a lawsuit against Harvard. They had an investigation at Harvard as well. They are definitely paying attention to the role of race in admissions and, potentially, angling for something to head back to the Supreme Court on this matter.

SHAPIRO: And so if the Justice Department does file a lawsuit based on Yale's refusal to change its admissions policies, does everything then hinge on the November elections? Or where does this go?

KORN: Quite possibly; we could see - if the administration changes, Department of Justice could - a new Department of Justice under new leadership could change attack and drop a lawsuit, or it could continue. So, yeah, November could definitely affect how long this saga will go on.

SHAPIRO: That's Melissa Korn, reporter at The Wall Street Journal.

Thank you for speaking with us today.

KORN: Thanks so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.