• David J Wudyka

Here We Go Again. . .Does Yale Really Have an Admissions Problem, Too?


We recently posted our third blog in a three-part series about challenges to Harvard University’s Admissions Process by a group of Asian-Americans. In the series, we described why Affirmative Action compliant admissions processes are so complex, as compared to the 1970’s when the dominant goal was the hiring or admission of African Americans.

We now see similar challenges to Yale University’s Admissions Process. The allegations though are not specific to Asian Americans (1). Instead, the charge is that Asian Americans and Whites are the victims. We have come full circle since the early days of Affirmative Action, and subsequently, the Bakke Decision which established the legitimacy of reverse discrimination.

Now the allegation is that Whites have been discriminated against as a group. But “Whites” are not a legally protected class. What’s more, Diversity textbooks (Understanding and Managing Diversity, Carol P. Harvey and M. June Allard, 4th Edition, Pearson Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 2009) point out that Asian Americans are perceived as “white” by Caucasians.

Therefore, a position could be held that sixty percent of admissions to Yale are “whites.” Neither group (Whites or Asian Americans) is protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Therefore, the allegation against Yale’s Admissions Policy suggests that some other group is benefiting disproportionately. Remember, Asian Americans are admitted at the rate of 20% and Whites at 40%. However, Blacks are admitted at an 8% rate, Hispanics at a 14% rate, and people in the category of “Multi-Racial” are admitted at a 7% rate. Yet, 10% - 14% of the U.S. is Black, and 24% - 28% is Hispanic. Only 5% - 8% is Asian American. Yale (and most likely Harvard) would argue that admitting students from foreign countries (10% at Yale) is consistent with their goal of creating a more diverse community, a right afforded to them by the Supreme Court in related cases.

If this is true, then where will the “deficit” be made up? Not only is there no “excess” of Admissions in any other group, but it could be argued that Black admissions are too low. But this is not the group that is alleging discrimination.

Also, Admission percentages are great, but how many people are applying? Sometimes these numbers are disappointing to colleges and universities. You cannot admit or hire people who don’t apply. This was a prime concept in the creation of Affirmative Action, i.e. that an organization must “affirmatively” (i.e. proactively) seek people from protected classes for hire or admission.

All of which underscores the difficulty of managing a non-discriminatory College Admissions Program. In the 1970’s it was expected that, if any Protected Class would complain about its admissions or hiring rate, it would be Blacks. This group was the primary and intended beneficiary of advances in Anti-Discrimination Law, most notably Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

But it is no longer the 1970’s. It is 2021, and it is clear that the world of Affirmative Action is murky at best.

Note: It is our intention to update this Case as it unfolds.

David J. Wudyka, MBA

Westminster Associates

Wrentham, MA 02093

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