The clearest picture of the dueling sides emerged early in the day as both sides presented their opening statements.
Harvard's lawyers depicted the lawsuit as an attack on the school and many others that consider race as a way to admit a diverse mix of students.
Later that month, 16 highly selective universities including Columbia, Duke, Johns Hopkins and Stanford jointly filed an amicus brief with the federal district court in Boston in the Harvard lawsuit.
Students for Fair Admissions is led by Edward Blum, a legal strategist who has fought against the use of race at other colleges, including a Supreme Court case in 2016 that upheld policies at the University of Texas.
Harvard University discriminates against Asian-American applicants in order to limit how many it admits, a lawyer for a group suing the school said on Monday at the start of a trial that could have wider implications for the role of race in US college admissions.
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"Let me be unequivocal: The College's admissions process does not discriminate against anybody", Bacow wrote. "If it considers race at all, it is always considered in a positive way".
Mortara said that while Asian American applicants received higher ratings than other racial groups in academics and extracurricular activities, their applications are dragged down by comparatively low "personal" ratings determined by vague and subjective criteria that benefit other applicants, particularly African American and Hispanic applicants.
Does Harvard University discriminate against Asian-Americans in its admissions process? The group is based in Arlington, Virginia, and says it has more than 20,000 members, including at least some Asian-Americans who were rejected from Harvard. Courts have previously allowed universities to examine race as a factor in order to promote diversity on campus, a practice known as affirmative action, or "reverse discrimination". An applicant's race, standing alone, would never the reason for admission, Lee said, with Harvard's "whole person review" created to ensure that no one characteristic was overriding.
Similarly, Fitzsimmons said that white students in states where Harvard attendance is sparse, such as Montana and Nevada, would receive a recruitment letter if they scored at least 1310 in the combined SAT math and verbal tests.
"Harvard is systemically saying that Asian candidates are not likeable and don't have good personalities. which is nothing but racist", says Lee Cheng, a lawyer and secretary of the Asian American Legal Foundation, which supports the lawsuit. And it continuously points out that Asian-Americans now account for 23 percent of all admitted students, and they make up just 6 percent of the US population.
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Lee said Students for Fair Admissions had misconstrued data, and that race was used only to a student's advantage in certain circumstances, and never to his or her disadvantage. This couldn't be further from the truth - a study of the 2011-2012 school year found that while 81 percent of Asian-American students had access to college-preparatory math and science courses, only 57 percent of black students enjoyed the same privileges.
It was meant to back a lawsuit heading to trial Monday accusing Harvard of bias against Asian American applicants.
The plaintiff alleges that Harvard engineers every year a precise racial balance of admission offers that gives an unfair edge to less-qualified applicants from other groups.
The Harvard case has captured the attention of many in the education world, including leaders of some colleges who say a loss for Harvard could put their own policies in jeopardy.
During the recent confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh, civil rights groups expressed concern over the newly-minted Supreme Court Justice's past writing on affirmative action.
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