KEY POINTS

  • The Department of Justice accuses Yale University of long-standing and illegal racial discrimination and demands it end the alleged practice
  • Yale vehemently denies the charges, saying it doesn't discriminate based on ethnicity
  • University says it won't change its admissions process "on the basis of such a meritless, hasty accusation"

Yale University says it's ready to meet the Department of Justice (DOJ) in court after being accused of long-standing and illegal discrimination against white and Asian Americans applicants to favor African Americans and Hispanics.

In a letter to Yale's lawyers Thursday, the justice department said it has determined Yale "violated, and is continuing to violate, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ... by discriminating on the basis of race and national origin ... in its undergraduate admissions with respect to domestic non-transfer applicants to Yale College."

The letter also claims Yale’s discrimination "is long-standing and ongoing." It says this discrimination has been going on for the last four decades.

The letter stated that because Yale receives federal funding the university is subject to the anti-discrimination mandate in Title VI. This means Yale can't engage in discrimination barred by the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.

The justice department warned Yale must agree to not use race or national origin in its upcoming 2020-21 undergraduate admissions cycle. If Yale refuses to voluntarily comply, DOJ "will be prepared to file a lawsuit to enforce Yale’s Title VI obligations."

Yale quickly said it “categorically denies this allegation" and indicated its readiness to defend itself in court.

“We are proud of Yale’s admissions practices, and we will not change them on the basis of such a meritless, hasty accusation,” said Yale in a defiant statement.

Yale asserts it doesn't discriminate based on ethnicity. It said it considers a multitude of factors in admissions. It looks at “the whole person when selecting whom to admit among the many thousands of highly qualified applicants.”

Yale noted it's fully cooperated with the DOJ investigation. It's dismayed the DOJ made its determination before allowing Yale to provide all the information the department had requested thus far.

“Had the Department fully received and fairly weighed this information, it would have concluded that Yale’s practices absolutely comply with decades of Supreme Court precedent.”

On the other hand, DOJ investigators claim Yale has been discriminating against applicants to its undergraduate program based on their race and national origin for more than 40 years. They allege "race is the determinative factor in hundreds of admissions decisions each year.”

The department's investigation concludes white and Asian American and applicants have “only one-tenth to one-fourth of the likelihood of admission as African American applicants with comparable academic credentials."

“Yale’s race discrimination imposes undue and unlawful penalties on racially-disfavored applicants, including in particular Asian American and White applicants,” wrote Eric Dreiband, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, in a letter to Yale's lawyer

Yale Federal authorities are investigating Yale University's admission practices following accusations of discrimination against Asian-American applicants. The image shows the old campus at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, Nov. 28, 2012. Photo: REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin