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November 21, 2017

The Trump Administration is accusing Harvard of failing to cooperate with its ongoing investigation into whether the Ivy League school discriminates against Asian-American applicants.

The Justice Department sent letters to Harvard earlier this month, threatening to sue the school if it does not turn over admissions data by December 1. The Department says Harvard is using a "strategy of delay" and hasn't provided any information.

In a statement to WGBH News, Harvard says it has “an obligation to protect the confidentiality of students and applicant files and other highly sensitive records, and we have been seeking to engage the Department of Justice in the best means of doing so.”

WGBH legal analyst and Northeastern professor Daniel Medwed says Harvard may have a valid argument. 

"Students apply to Harvard and other schools with privacy in mind so even if Harvard is forced to turn over these files they will probably have to redact a lot of data, personal information and medical information," Medwed said.

Still, Medwed says a court could compel Harvard to hand over admission files.

This comes three months after the DOJ reopened a civil rights investigation into complaints that Harvard limits the number of Asian-Americans it admits.

Harvard also faces a private lawsuit making similar allegations.

As recently as last year the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the use of race in admissions, but only in limited circumstances.

Earlier: DOJ Looks Into Whether Harvard Discriminates Against Asian-Americans

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