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Harvard University Defends Student Privacy

Harvard University Defends Student Privacy

CAMBRIDGE, MA – Calling the summary judgment filing of an anti-race conscious admissions group a “a concerted public relations effort” that relies on “distortions” and “misleading characterizations,” lawyers for Harvard University today filed in U.S. District Court a robust defense of student privacy, drawing a firm line to protect applicants and the university’s admissions practices.

The Harvard filing, in response to Students for Fair Admissions’ (SFFA) attempt to make public information protected by law, argues the SFFA filing was “orchestrated by an opponent of racial diversity who seeks above all to end the consideration of race in college admissions,” and that it reflects SFFA’s inability “to find any actual documentary or testimonial support for the purported scheme of intentional discrimination alleged by the Complaint.”

Harvard seeks to protect a narrow category of documents in the interest of student privacy and the integrity of Harvard’s admissions process.

“Harvard, like every college and university across this country, has an obligation to protect student and applicant privacy. Harvard is deeply committed to protecting the extensive personal information applicants entrust to us in the admissions process, and today’s filing underscores this effort,” said Anna Cowenhoven, a spokesperson for the University. 

The filing argues that disclosure of proprietary information about Harvard’s admissions process would seriously impair that process by emboldening paid college consultants—a $400 million industry—to advise applicants on how to conform their conduct and their applications to Harvard’s perceived criteria. This would disadvantage low-income applicants who can’t afford the consultants and directly impair Harvard’s ability to recruit and admit a diverse class each year.

“There is no evidence in SFFA’s motion for summary judgment, nor in the nearly 100,000 pages of documents that Harvard produced, nor the 20 depositions of Harvard witnesses, to support SFFA’s allegations that Harvard maintains racial quotas or has engaged in a deliberate effort to suppress Asian-American admissions,” said Cowenhoven. “In fact, a thorough and comprehensive analysis of the data and evidence makes clear that Harvard College does not discriminate against applicants from any group, including Asian-Americans, whose share of the admitted class has grown by nearly 30% since 2010.”

Please see Harvard’s dedicated resource page for additional information about today’s filings, past filings, and Harvard’s media resources.