A Justice Department investigation has found Yale University is illegally discriminating against Asian American and white applicants, in violation of federal civil rights law, officials said Thursday.
Yale denied the allegation, calling it “meritless” and “hasty.”
The findings detailed in a letter to the college’s attorneys Thursday mark the latest action by the Trump administration aimed at rooting out discrimination in the college application process, following complaints from students about the application process at some Ivy League colleges. The Justice Department had previously filed court papers siding with Asian American groups who had levied similar allegations against Harvard University.
The two-year investigation concluded that Yale “rejects scores of Asian American and white applicants each year based on their race, whom it otherwise would admit,” the Justice Department said. The investigation stemmed from a 2016 complaint against Yale, Brown and Dartmouth.
“Yale’s race discrimination imposes undue and unlawful penalties on racially-disfavored applicants, including in particular Asian American and White applicants,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, who heads the department’s civil rights division, wrote in a letter to the college’s attorneys.
Prosecutors found that Yale has been discriminating against applicants to its undergraduate program based on their race and national origin and “that race is the determinative factor in hundreds of admissions decisions each year.” The investigation concluded that Asian American and white students have “only one-tenth to one-fourth of the likelihood of admission as African American applicants with comparable academic credentials,” the Justice Department said.
“Unlawfully dividing Americans into racial and ethnic blocs fosters stereotypes, bitterness, and division,” Dreiband said in a statement. “It is past time for American institutions to recognize that all people should be treated with decency and respect and without unlawful regard to the color of their skin.”
The investigation also found that Yale uses race as a factor in multiple steps of the admissions process and that Yale “racially balances its classes.”
The Supreme Court has ruled colleges and universities may consider race in admissions decisions but has said that must be done in a narrowly tailored way to promote diversity and should be limited in time. Schools also bear the burden of showing why their consideration of race is appropriate.
In a statement, Yale said it “categorically denies this allegation,” has cooperated fully with the investigation and has been continually turning over “a substantial amount of information and data.”
“Given our commitment to complying with federal law, we are dismayed that the DOJ has made its determination before allowing Yale to provide all the information the Department has requested thus far,” the university said in a statement. “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.”
The university said it considers a multitude of factors and looks at “the whole person when selecting whom to admit among the many thousands of highly qualified applicants.”
“We are proud of Yale’s admissions practices, and we will not change them on the basis of such a meritless, hasty accusation,” the statement said.
The Justice Department has demanded that Yale immediately stop and agree not to use race or national origin for upcoming admissions. The government also says that if Yale proposes that it will continue to use race or national origin as a factor in future admission cycles, the college must first submit a plan to the Justice Department “demonstrating its proposal is narrowly tailored as required by law, including by identifying a date for the end of race discrimination.”
The Justice Department has also previously raised similar concerns about Harvard University, which prosecutors accused of “engaging in outright racial balancing,” siding with Asian American students in a lawsuit who allege the Ivy League school discriminated against them.
A federal judge in 2019 cleared Harvard of discriminating against Asian American applicants in a ruling that was seen as a major victory for supporters of affirmative action in college admissions across the U.S. That ruling has been appealed and arguments are scheduled for next month.
In the Harvard case, the Justice Department had argued that the university went too far in its use of race, but the judge disagreed. Though the Supreme Court has ruled that colleges’ use of race in admissions must be “narrowly tailored” and can be only a “plus factor,” past rulings still give colleges wide latitude in considering a wide range of factors, including race, as they build their classes.
Speaking from the Senate floor for the first time, Kamala Harris expressed gratitude for a woman on whose shoulders she said she stood. In her autobiography, Harris interspersed the well-worn details of her resume with an extended ode to the one she calls “the reason for everything.” And taking the stage to announce her presidential candidacy, she framed it as a race grounded in the compassion and values of the person she credits for her fighting spirit.
Though more than a decade has passed since Shyamala Gopalan died, she remains a force in her daughter’s life as she takes a historic spot on the Democratic ticket besides former Vice President Joe Biden. Those who know the California senator expect her campaign for the vice presidency to bring repeated mentions of the woman she calls her single greatest influence.
“She’s always told the same story,” said friend Mimi Silbert. “Kamala had one important role model, and it was her mother.”
Harris’ mother gave her an early grounding in the civil rights movement and injected in her a duty not to complain but rather to act. And that no-nonsense demeanor on display in Senate hearings over special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and more? Onlookers can credit, or blame, Gopalan, a crusader who raised her daughter in the same mold.
“She’d tell us: ‘Don’t sit around and complain about things. Do something.’ So I did something,” Harris said Wednesday in her first appearance with Biden as his running mate.
Harris’ parents met as doctoral students at the University of California, Berkeley, at the dawn of the 1960s. Her father, a Jamaican named Donald Harris, came to study economics. Her mother studied nutrition and endocrinology.
For two freethinking young people drawn to activism, they landed on campus from opposite sides of the world just as protests exploded around civil rights, the Vietnam War and voting rights. Their paths crossed in those movements, and they fell in love.
At the heart of their activism was a small group of students who met every Sunday to discuss the books of Black authors and grassroots activity around the world, from the anti-apartheid Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa to liberation movements in Latin America to the Black separatist preaching of Malcolm X in the U.S.
A member of the group, Aubrey Labrie, said the weekly gathering was one in which figures such as Mao Zedong and Fidel Castro were admired, and would later provide some inspiration to the founders of the Black Panther Party. Gopalan was the only one in the group who wasn’t Black, but she immersed herself in the issues, Labrie said. She and Harris wowed him with their intellect.
“I was in awe of the knowledge that they seemed to demonstrate,” said Labrie, who grew so close to the family that the senator calls him “Uncle Aubrey.”
The couple married, and Gopalan Harris gave birth to Kamala and then Maya two years later. Even with young children, the duo continued their advocacy.
As a little girl, Harris says she remembers an energetic sea of moving legs and the cacophony of chants as her parents made their way to marches. She writes of her parents being sprayed with police hoses, confronted by Hells Angels and once, with the future senator in a stroller, forced to run to safety when violence broke out.
Sharon McGaffie, a family friend whose mother, Regina Shelton, was a caregiver for the girls, remembers Gopalan Harris speaking to her daughters as if they were adults and exposing them to worlds often walled off to children, whether a civil rights march or a visit to mom’s laboratory or a seminar where the mother was delivering a speech.
“She would take the girls and they would pull out their little backpacks and they would be in that environment,” said McGaffie.
A few years into the marriage, Harris’ parents divorced. The senator gives the pain of the parting only a few words in her biography. Those who are close to her describe her childhood as happy, the smells of her mother’s cooking filling the kitchen and the sound of constant chatter and laughter buffeting the air.
The mother’s influence on her girls grew even greater, and those who know Harris say they see it reflected throughout her life.
“You can’t know who @KamalaHarris is without knowing who our mother was,” her sister Maya tweeted Tuesday after Biden announced his pick. “Missing her terribly, but know she and the ancestors are smiling today.”
As a kindergartner, Stacey Johnson-Batiste remembers Harris coming to her aid when a classroom bully grabbed her craft project and threw it to the floor, which brought retaliation from the boy. He hit the future politician in the head with something that caused enough bleeding to necessitate a hospital visit, cementing for Johnson-Batiste a lifelong friendship with Harris and a view of her as a woman who embodies the ethics of her mother.
“Even back then,” Johnson-Batiste said, “she has always stood up for what she thought was right.”
As a teenager, after her mother got a job that prompted a family move to Montreal, Harris began seeing how she could achieve change in ways small and large. Outside her family’s apartment, she and her sister protested a prohibition against soccer on the building’s lawn, which Harris said resulted in the rule being overturned. As high school wound down, she homed in on a career goal of being a lawyer.
Sophie Maxwell, a former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, said Harris wasn’t choosing to eschew activism but rather to incorporate it into a life in law: “Those two things go hand in hand.”
In college, at Howard University in Washington, D.C., Shelley Young Thompkins recalls a classmate who was certain of what she wanted to do in life, who was serious about her studies and who put off the fun of joining a sorority until her final year even as she made time for sit-ins and protests. Thompkins and Harris both won student council posts.
In her new friend, Young Thompkins saw a young woman intent on not squandering all that her mother had worked to give her.
“We were these two freshmen girls who want to save the world,” she said.
From there, Harris’ story is much better known: a return to California for law school; a failed first attempt at the bar; jobs in prosecutor’s offices in Oakland and San Francisco; a brazen and successful run at unseating her former boss as district attorney; election as state attorney general and U.S. senator; and a run for president that launched with fanfare but dissolved before the first votes were cast.
Each step of the way, friends point to the influence of Gopalan Harris as a constant.
Andrea Dew Steele remembers it being apparent from the moment they sat down to craft the very first flyer for Harris’ first campaign for public office.
“She always talked about her mother,” Dew Steele said. “When she was alive she was a force, and since she’s passed away she’s still a force.”
Dew Steele remembers when she finally met Gopalan Harris at a campaign event. It immediately struck her: “Oh, this is where Kamala gets it from.”
As much as mother and daughter shared, Gopalan Harris believed the world would see them differently. Those who knew her say she was dismayed by racial inequality in the U.S. Understanding her girls would be seen as Black despite their mixed heritage, she surrounded them with Black role models and immersed them in Black culture. They sang in the children’s choir at a Black church and regularly visited Rainbow Sign, a former Berkeley funeral home that was transformed into a vibrant Black cultural center.
Though the senator talks of attending anti-apartheid protests in college and frames her life story as being in the same mold as her mother, she opted to pursue change by seeking a seat at the table.
“I knew part of making change was what I’d seen all my life, surrounded by adults shouting and marching and demanding justice from the outside. But I also knew there was an important role on the inside,” she wrote in “The Truths We Hold.”
To launch her political career, Harris had to unseat a man of her mother’s generation — a liberal prosecutor who was the product of a left-wing family, who was active in the civil rights movement and who became a hero to other activists whom he defended in court. To win, Harris ran as a tougher-on-crime alternative.
Once in office, bound by the parameters of the law and the realities of politics, Harris’ choices stirred some to dismiss her claims of progressivism even as many others fiercely defend her. She frames her philosophy in the example of her mother — concentrating on overarching goals through smaller daily steps.
“She wasn’t fixated on that distant dream. She focused on the work right in front of her,” the senator wrote.
Gopalan Harris defied generations of tradition by not returning to southern India after getting her doctorate, tossing aside expectations of an arranged marriage. Her daughter portrays her mother’s spirit of activism as being in her blood. Gopalan Harris’ mother took in victims of domestic abuse and educated women about contraception. Her father was active in India’s independence movement and became a diplomat. The couple spent time living in Zambia after the end of British rule there, working to settle refugees.
Joe Gray, who was Gopalan Harris’ boss after she returned from Canada to the Bay Area to work at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, struggles to describe how a 5-foot-1-inch woman managed to fill a room with her commanding presence.
Gray, now a professor at Oregon Health and Science University, didn’t see Gopalan Harris as a “crusader in the workplace” but said she insisted on racial and gender equity, would make known her disapproval to an insensitive comment and was assertive in defending her work in cancer research.
Even from a distance, he’s struck by how much Harris reminds him of her.
“I just get the TV persona, but a lot of Shyamala’s directness and sense of social justice, those seem to come through,” he said. “I sense the same spirit.”
Lateefah Simon sensed it, too. She was a high school dropout-turned-MacArthur fellow Harris hired to join the San Francisco DA’s office to head a program for first-time offenders. Simon was skeptical of taking a role in a criminal justice system she saw as broken and biased, but Harris impressed her, and soon she had a glimpse of her mother as well.
At campaign events, Simon would watch Gopalan Harris, always in the front row, always beaming with pride. She saw how both mother and daughter were meticulous about tiny details, how they were hard workers but maintained a sense of joy in the labors, how their laugh would echo in the room.
One time, Simon said Gopalan Harris sent her away from a fundraiser because she was wearing tennis shoes, gently reminding her, “We always show up excellent.”
Years later, she heard echoes of the same message when Harris took a break from her Senate race to support her run for a seat on the Bay Area Rapid Transit District board. Descending from her campaign bus, Harris was quick with some words of advice for her friend: “Girl, clean your glasses.”
“It’s her saying, ‘I believe in you and I want people to see what I see in you,’” Simon said. Remembering her brush with the senator’s mother, Simon said, “If I got that from Shyamala just in that one moment, can you imagine the many jewels Kamala got from her growing up?”
It’s an influence that far outweighed that of Harris’ father. He and her mother separated when she was 5 before ultimately divorcing. She writes of seeing him on weekends and over summers after he became a professor at Stanford University.
In a piece he wrote for the Jamaica Global website, Harris said he never gave up his love for his daughters, and the senator trumpeted her father as a superhero in her children’s book. But the iciness of their relationship was on display last year when she jokingly linked her use of marijuana to her Jamaican heritage. Her father labeled the comment a “travesty” and a shameful soiling of the family reputation “in the pursuit of identity politics.”
The senator is curt in responding to questions about him, saying they have “off and on” contact. Labrie said though the father attended his daughter’s Senate swearing-in, he wasn’t at her campaign kickoff. He thinks the marijuana hubbub worsened their relationship. “I think that was the straw that really broke the camel’s back,” he said.
The singularity of her mother’s role in her life made her death even harder for Harris. Gopalan Harris relished roles in her daughter’s early campaigns but was gone before seeing her advance beyond a local office. The senator says she still thinks of her constantly.
“It can still get me choked up,” she said in an interview last year. “It doesn’t matter how many years have passed.”
The senator still uses pots and wooden spoons from her mother and thinks of her when she is back home and able to cook. Her mother’s amethyst ring sparkles from her hand. She finds herself asking her mother for advice or remembering one of her oft-repeated lines.
“I dearly wish she were here with us this week,” Harris tweeted Thursday.
She pictures the pride her mother wore as she stood beside her when she was sworn in as district attorney. She remembers worrying about staying composed as she uttered her mother’s name in her inaugural address as attorney general. She thinks of her mother asking a hospice nurse if her daughters would be OK as cancer drew her final day closer.
“There is no title or honor on earth I’ll treasure more than to say I am Shyamala Gopalan Harris’ daughter,” she wrote. “That is the truth I hold dearest of all.”
Former vice-president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, picked California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate on Tuesday.
Harris becomes the first Black woman on a major party’s presidential ticket and her selection acknowledges the vital role Black voters will play in the Democrats’ bid to defeat President Donald Trump, reports AP.
She will appear with Biden for the first time as his running mate at an event Wednesday near his home in Wilmington, Delaware.
The 55-year-old first-term senator of South Asian descent, is one of the party’s most prominent figures. She quickly became a top contender for the No. 2 spot after her own White House campaign ended.
In announcing the pick, Biden called Harris a “fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country's finest public servants.” She said Biden would “unify the American people" and “build an America that lives up to our ideals.”
Harris joins Biden at a moment of unprecedented national crisis.
The coronavirus pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 160,000 people in the US, far more than the toll experienced in other countries. Business closures and disruptions resulting from the pandemic have caused severe economic problems. Unrest has emerged across the country as Americans protest racism and police brutality.
Trump’s uneven handling of the crises has given Biden an opening, and he enters the fall campaign in strong position against the president.
In adding Harris to the ticket, he can point to her relatively centrist record on issues such as health care and her background in law enforcement in the nation’s largest state.
The president told reporters Tuesday he was “a little surprised” that Biden picked Harris, pointing to their debate stage disputes during the primary. Trump, who had donated to her previous campaigns, argued she was “about the most liberal person in the US Senate.”
“I would have thought that Biden would have tried to stay away from that a little bit,” he said.
Harris’s record as California attorney general and district attorney in San Francisco was heavily scrutinised during the Democratic primary and turned away some liberals and younger Black voters who saw her as out of step on issues of racism in the legal system and police brutality. She declared herself a “progressive prosecutor” who backs law enforcement reforms.
Biden, who spent eight years as President Barack Obama’s vice president, has spent months weighing who would fill that same role in his White House.
He pledged in March to select a woman as his vice president, easing frustration among Democrats that the presidential race would centre on two white men in their 70s.
The vice presidential pick carries increased significance this year.
If elected, Biden would be 78 when inaugurated in January, the oldest man to ever assume the presidency. He’s spoken of himself as a transitional figure and hasn’t fully committed to seeking a second term in 2024.
Harris, born in 1964 to a Jamaican father and Indian mother, spent much of her formative years in Berkeley, California. She has often spoken of the deep bond she shared with her mother, whom she has called her single biggest influence.
Harris won her first election in 2003 when she became San Francisco’s district attorney. In that post, she created a reentry programme for low-level drug offenders and cracked down on student truancy.
She was elected California’s attorney general in 2010, the first woman and Black person to hold the job, and focused on issues including the foreclosure crisis. She declined to defend the state’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage and was later overturned by the US Supreme Court.
After being elected to the Senate in 2016, she quickly gained attention for her assertive questioning of Trump administration officials during congressional hearings.
Harris launched her presidential campaign in early 2019 with the slogan “Kamala Harris For the People,” a reference to her courtroom work. She was one of the highest-profile contenders in a crowded Democratic primary and attracted 20,000 people to her first campaign rally in Oakland.
But the early promise of her campaign eventually faded. Her law enforcement background prompted skepticism from some progressives, and she struggled to land on a consistent message that resonated with voters. Facing fundraising problems, she abruptly withdrew from the race in December 2019, two months before the first votes of the primary were cast.
One standout moment of her presidential campaign came at the expense of Biden. During a debate, she said Biden made “very hurtful” comments about his past work with segregationist senators and slammed his opposition to busing as schools began to integrate in the 1970s.
“There was a little girl in California who was a part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day,” she said. “And that little girl was me.”
Shaken by the attack, Biden called her comments “a mischaracterisation of my position.”
The exchange resurfaced recently with a report that one of Biden’s closest friends and a co-chair of his vice presidential vetting committee, former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, still harbors concerns about the debate and that Harris hadn’t expressed regret. The comments attributed to Dodd and first reported by Politico drew condemnation, especially from influential Democratic women who said Harris was being held to a standard that wouldn’t apply to a man running for president.
Biden and Harris have since returned to a warm relationship.
“Joe has empathy, he has a proven track record of leadership and more than ever before we need a president of the United States who understands who the people are, sees them where they are, and has a genuine desire to help and knows how to fight to get us where we need to be,” Harris said at an event for Biden earlier this summer.
Harris has taken a tougher stand on policing since Floyd’s killing. She co-sponsored legislation in June that would ban police from using chokeholds and no-knock warrants, set a national use-of-force standard and create a national police misconduct registry, among other things. It would also reform the qualified immunity system that shields officers from liability.
“We made progress, but clearly we are not at the place yet as a country where we need to be and California is no exception,” she told The Associated Press recently. The national focus on racial injustice now, she said, shows “there’s no reason that we have to continue to wait.”
The United States' status as the hardest-hit country across the globe by COVID-19 touched a new milestone, with over 5 million confirmed coronavirus cases,
According to the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the USA has so far confirmed 5,017,150 cases from the deadly virus and recorded 162,635 deaths.
The failure of the most powerful nation to contain the scourge has been met with astonishment and alarm in Europe, reports AP.
In the global context, a total of 19,696,961 million coronavirus cases have so far been confirmed with some 727,000 related deaths.
The US is followed by Brazil with more than three million confirmed infections and some 100,000 fatalities.
India has the world's third-highest confirmed caseload as the country confirmed over 2.15 million cases.
The Treasury Department of the United States on Friday imposed sanctions on Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam, and 10 other top officials from Hong Kong and mainland China.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the sanctions were used to target those undermining Hong Kong's autonomy, reports BBC.
"The United States stands with the people of Hong Kong," he added.
The development came weeks after China imposed a controversial national security law on Hong Kong.
The effort drew much criticism across the globe and critics said the law threatened Hong Kong’s freedoms.
Among those sanctioned are Hong Kong's police commissioner and several political secretaries.
The US Treasury directly accused Ms Lam of "implementing Beijing's policies of suppression of freedom and democratic processes."
"In 2019, Lam pushed for an update to Hong Kong's extradition arrangements to allow for extradition to the mainland, setting off a series of massive opposition demonstrations in Hong Kong," the US Treasury said in a statement.