WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 15, 2015) — The two Asian American Commissioners of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Michael Yaki and Karen Narasaki, in their individual capacities on Friday issued the following response to the announcement that an administrative complaint was filed by against Harvard University alleging discriminatory admissions practices against prospective Asian American students.
STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONERS YAKI AND NARASAKI
While we have not reviewed the actual complaint against Harvard University, we hope that this is a sincerely raised issue and not a back door attack on affirmative action that attempts to pit Asian Americans against other minorities, as other efforts have been. Like a majority of Asian Americans, we stand together as long-time supporters of affirmative action. Affirmative action creates opportunities for students disadvantaged by race and circumstances, and a diverse student body ensures that the next generation of Americans is exposed to the variety of life experiences and backgrounds that will help them to build vibrant communities and successfully work in the global economy.
Neither of us believes that any racial or ethnic group should be subjected to quotas. Nor do we believe that test scores alone entitle anyone to admission at Harvard. Students are more than their test scores and grades. Well-constructed and properly implemented admissions programs further our principles of equal opportunity. While we understand that some programs may be imperfect, or even need substantial reform, we do not support any attempt to eliminate affirmative action programs at Harvard or any institution of higher learning.
We will closely review the complaint and the University’s response and closely monitor developments in this situation.
Commissioner Yaki, who is of Chinese and Japanese heritage, was appointed to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in 2005 by Democratic Leader Pelosi. Commissioner Narasaki, who is of Japanese heritage, was appointed to the Commission in 2014 by President Obama. Both are graduates of Ivy-league schools; Narasaki from Yale University and Yaki from the Yale Law School.