HARVARD Act combats discrimination in race-based admissions decisions

California Representative Michelle Steel (R) recently introduced the HARVARD Act to increase 'transparency' around universities' assessments of students' characteristics during the admissions process.

Steel presented the bill in connection with the upcoming Supreme Court case Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College.

California Representative Michelle Steel (R) recently introduced the "Helping Applicants Receive Valid and Reasonable Decisions Act" to increase "transparency" around universities' assessments of students' characteristics during the admissions process.

"This bill requires an institution of higher education (IHE) that participates in federal student-aid programs and considers personality traits of applicants in making admission determinations to publicly disclose specified information related to personality traits," the bill's summary reads. 

"Personality traits refer to the patterns of an individual with respect to behaviors, thoughts, and emotions and may include patterns relating to humor, sensitivity, grit, leadership, integrity, helpfulness, courage, and kindness," the summary explains. 

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Steel presented the bill, which is also known by its acronym as the "HAVARD Act," in connection with the upcoming Supreme Court case Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College.

That case tests whether "institutions of higher education cannot use race as a factor in admissions; and (2) whether Harvard College is violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by penalizing Asian American applicants, engaging in racial balancing, overemphasizing race and rejecting workable race-neutral alternatives," SCOTUSBlog reports. 

Campus Reform reported in January that the Supreme Court will hear the Harvard College case and Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina together during the 2022-2023 term. 

"The group leading the challenges, Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), claims that the universities 'discriminate against Asian-American and white applicants' by employing race-conscious admission policies," Campus Reform reported at the time. 

In an Apr. 27 press release, Rep. Steel said that if passed, the bill would mandate that universities: "A statement informing applicants of the use of personality traits in making admissions decisions; The rationale for such use of personality traits; A description of the process under which personality traits are considered, and; The standards and criteria used for rating personality traits."

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Last August, Kenny Xu, president of Color Us United, told Campus Reform that "in the name of diversity," elite colleges including Harvard University "are discriminating against the most qualified applicants." 

"Xu says he found that, according to Harvard's internal research, 43 percent of its student body would be Asian if the university did not discriminate in admissions based on race," Angela Morabito reported. 

Campus Reform reached out to Harvard University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Representative Michelle Steel for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

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