The Justice Department cited a 2015 lawsuit that charges Harvard's affirmative action policies discriminate against Asian-American applicants, in a letter setting a December 1 deadline for Harvard to hand over documents on its admission policies.
The Journal reported that the DOJ is investigating similar allegations to a 2014 civil lawsuit filed by Students for Fair Admissions, which said the university admissions practices were in violation of USA civil rights law and discriminated against Asian Americans.
"The Department is left with no choice but to conclude that Harvard is out of compliance with its Title VI access obligations", the letter reads.
A year ago the Supreme Court upheld affirmative action in college admissions decisions, saying that race can be one factor in order to promote diversity on campus. "This investigation is a welcome development". "For decades, Harvard has unfairly and unlawfully restricted the number of Asians it admits".
Graduating students arrive for Commencement Exercises at Boston College in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. on May 20, 2013.
The DOJ recently wrote two letters informing the school that it was being probed under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 due to reports that the school has been using race as a deciding factor in admissions.More news: Pennsylvania police in manhunt for suspect in killing of officer
"Harvard's Asian quotas, and the overall racial balancing that follows, have been ignored by our federal agencies for too long".
Edward Blum, president of Students for Fair Admissions, sent a written statement Tuesday saying his group is gratified that the department had launched an investigation. The act prohibits schools and other organizations that receive federal funding from discrimination based on race or national origin.
"Harvard has pursued a strategy of delay and has not yet produced even a single document", another letter from the agency, dated, November 17, said, The Wall Street Journal reported.
"It's peculiar that you have a situation in which the Department of Education has dismissed a complaint and the Justice Department then decides to investigate under Title VI", Bhargava said. Bhargava recently held fellowships at the Harvard Kennedy School, but she said she is not now affiliated with the school. The Justice Department said Harvard sent a "belated response" on November 7, challenging the department's authority to investigate and giving "restricted access to limited documents".
The letters said Harvard lawyer Seth Waxman, a WilmerHale partner, had challenged DOJ's authority to investigate the school under Title VI. That translates to an admission rate of little more than 5 percent. The school also said just over half of the freshmen admitted in 2017 were women, more than one-in-five were Asian and nearly 15 percent listed as African-American.