An Asian-American student withdrew federal complaints that Harvard University and Princeton University rejected him for their current freshman classes because of his race, according to the universities.
The U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights notified Harvard on Feb. 15 that it had closed the case because the complaint was withdrawn, Jeff Neal, a spokesman for the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based university, said in an e-mail.
“We are pleased” with the outcome, Neal said. “Harvard College welcomes talented students from all backgrounds, including Asian-Americans.”
Complaints on the applicant’s behalf were filed in August 2011 against the universities. The student, whose family originally came from India, was among the top performers in his California high school class, according to his father, who declined to be identified. The student and his father didn’t respond to messages asking why the complaints were withdrawn.
The civil rights office had folded the complaint against Princeton, New Jersey-based Princeton into a compliance review begun in 2008 of whether that university discriminates against Asian-Americans.
The complaints fed the longstanding debate about whether elite universities hold Asian-Americans to a higher standard in college admissions. Asian-Americans made up 16 percent of Harvard undergraduates in the 2010-2011 academic year, down from 18 percent in 2005-2006, according to the university’s website. The proportion of Asian-Americans among Princeton undergraduates increased to 17.7 percent this year from 14.1 percent in 2007- 2008.