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Harvard's legacy admissions facing federal civil rights investigation

The U.S. Department of Education has opened an investigation into Harvard University’s legacy admissions process.

The group Lawyers for Civil Rights Boston told The Hill the Department of Justice notified them of the investigation. The group filed a complaint at the beginning of the month on behalf of New England Black and Latino organizations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“Lawyers for Civil Rights welcomes the news we received from the U.S. Department of Education that it has formally opened a federal investigation into our civil rights complaint, which challenges Harvard’s discriminatory practice of giving preferential treatment to children of wealthy donors and children of alumni,” the group said in a statement.

“As our complaint outlines, these unfair and undeserved preferences are bestowed overwhelmingly on white applicants and systematically harm applicants of color, in violation of federal anti-discrimination law.”

The Education Department confirmed to both the New York Times and the Associated Press that an investigation into Harvard has been opened. However, they declined further comment on what exactly the probe is about.

“The Office for Civil Rights can confirm that there is an open investigation of Harvard University under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” a spokesperson for the department told the Times. “We do not comment on open investigations.”

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of “race, color, or national origin,” for “any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” 

This investigation comes a little under a month after the Supreme Court struck down affirmative action programs allowing race as a factor in admissions at American colleges and universities. Harvard was involved in one of the two cases that resulted in the decision, along with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

The Hill has reached out to the Department of Education.

The Associated Press contributed. 

Source: The Hill

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