Press releases

Watch Kennedy’s comments here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today called on President Biden to support Asian-American students in their lawsuit against Harvard University. The lawsuit asserts that Harvard employs subjective admissions standards that discriminate against Asian-American applicants.

“If President Biden is serious about fighting discrimination against Asian-Americans, he should help end the practice at Harvard University. For years, Harvard has been rejecting highly qualified Asian-American applicants after giving them low ‘personal rating’ scores—an unfair, subjective standard. A student advocacy group has sued Harvard for this discrimination and asked the Supreme Court to take up the case. I call on the president to support this lawsuit and the rights of Asian-American students to be evaluated without bias,” said Kennedy. 

When evaluating candidates, Harvard considers not just the applicants’ academic success but also their “personal ratings.” These personal ratings are subjective and, according to Harvard, focus on qualities that are hard to measure, such as “humor,” “grit,” “leadership,” “helpfulness” and “courage.”

Harvard has consistently granted lower personal rating scores to Asian-American applicants compared to applicants from other racial groups. In 2014, Students for Fair Admissions sued Harvard for discriminating against Asian-Americans applying to the undergraduate programs.

The federal district court judge who ruled on the lawsuit wrote that “the data demonstrates a statistically significant and negative relationship between Asian American identity and the personal rating assigned by Harvard admissions officers.”

Despite that conclusion, the district court judge ruled against the plaintiffs in 2019, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld that decision last November. Students for Fair Admissions has petitioned the Supreme Court to consider the case.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) under the Trump Administration supported the Students for Fair Admissions lawsuit. The DOJ filed a statement of interest in the case in 2018 and an amicus brief in 2020. 

The DOJ also sued Yale University last October, claiming the school was discriminating against Asian-American applicants. The department dropped the lawsuit shortly after President Biden took office.