OCR review finds no evidence of discrimination in admission process

A compliance review of Princeton University's undergraduate admission process by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education has been concluded with a determination that the University did not discriminate against Asian applicants on the basis of race or national origin.

The review was based on information provided following two complaints received in 2006 and 2011. The complainants alleged that they were denied admission to the classes of 2010 and 2015, respectively, because of their race and national origin.

In a 20-page letter to President Christopher L. Eisgruber, OCR stated that "the University pursued a broad definition of diversity, for which race and national origin were among many other factors that were considered in the University’s effort to assemble broadly diverse classes of students."

OCR found that "the University weighed multiple factors in assessing applicants" and that it "treated each applicant as an individual, without making an applicant's race or national origin a defining characteristic," the letter stated. "Accordingly, OCR found no evidence of the different treatment of Asian applicants."

OCR also found "that the University’s use of race and national origin in admissions is consistent with the strict scrutiny standards established by the Supreme Court. The University sometimes considers race and national origin as factors in admissions, but OCR found no evidence that the University does so in a discriminatory manner. Instead OCR found that the University pursues a compelling interest in student body diversity; and that the University, if it considers race or national origin in admissions, does so in a narrowly tailored manner in pursuit of that interest."

Eisgruber said, "I am very pleased that the OCR has concluded this investigation not only with a finding that Princeton did not discriminate on the basis of race or national origin, but that the University’s holistic review of applicants in pursuit of its compelling interest in diversity meets the standards set by the Supreme Court."