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Feds rule Princeton did not discriminate against Asian Americans

September 23, 2015
Princeton University's Nassau Hall (Courtesy of James Loesch via Flickr/Creative Commons)

Princeton University’s Nassau Hall (Courtesy of James Loesch via Flickr/Creative Commons)

PRINCETON, N.J. (AP) — The federal Department of Education has declared that there is no evidence that Princeton University discriminates against Asian and Asian American applicants.

The university on Wednesday released a letter dated Sept. 9 from the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights.

The office investigated Princeton in response to two claims that the Ivy League university was discriminating on the basis of race and national origin. There have been growing claims that high-achieving Asian and Asian American students have been passed over at elite universities as their numbers there have risen. The universities say they look at more than academic performance and can’t accept everyone.

Earlier this year, the Department of Education found there was no such discrimination at Harvard. There are still pending lawsuits against Harvard and the University of North Carolina on similar claims.

In the Princeton case, one claim came from a student originally from China who was waitlisted in 2006 and said students from other backgrounds with similar credentials got in. The other came from the parents of a student of Indian descent who was rejected in 2010; that claim asserted the university discriminated generally against Asian and Indian applicants.

The government found that the university uses race and national origin in its admissions considerations as two of many factors. The review said Princeton did not subject members of any group to different admissions standards than others and never assessed the demographics of the classes it was building.

It said while interview notes about students sometimes used racial stereotypes, such as labeling Asian American students “quiet” or “shy,” those terms were also used to describe students of other races.

Princeton accepts only about 10 percent of undergraduate applicants. The university notes that having perfect SAT scores and being valedictorian of a high school class don’t guarantee admission to the school.

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