CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Two freshman friends sat across from each other in a common room, comparing notes on how exactly they got into Harvard. In some ways, their situations were opposites: One was a “double legacy,” with two parents who had themselves received Harvard degrees. The other was the son of a police officer and was on full financial aid.
Both Ms. Lavery and Mr. Felkers said that the case wasn’t talked about much among freshmen, though they said they had discussed it here and there, at dinner or between classes. Mr. Felkers described it as “kind of an elephant in the room.”
莱弗里和费尔克都表示，新生们对这起案子的谈论不多，尽管他们说自己在吃饭或课间，不时会和人讨论这件事。费尔克说这件事“被人刻意回避了”。 But late on a recent weeknight, the two sat down with Ms. Lavery’s three roommates — Nadine Lee, Lauren Marshall, and Charlotte Ruhl — to talk about the case and how it had made them reflect on their admission to Harvard and their experience of Harvard so far.
但近期一个工作日的深夜，两人和莱弗里的三名室友—— 娜丁·李(Nadine Lee)、劳伦·马歇尔(Lauren Marshall)和夏洛特·吕林(Charlotte Ruhl)——坐了下来，探讨这个案子、它是如何让他们开始反思自己被哈佛录取过程的，以及他们迄今为止在哈佛的感受。
The room was decorated with botanical prints and a poster of a landscape by the Japanese artist Hiroshige. Mr. Felkers, who wore wire-rimmed glasses and his hair in an undercut, perched on a white couch next to Ms. Marshall and Ms. Ruhl, who tucked their bare feet under them. Ms. Lavery and Ms. Lee, both in leggings and sneakers, sat across from them on a chair and a storage bench. As they talked, the students, all 18 years old, passed around a package of “Double Stuf” Oreos that Ms. Ruhl’s mother had sent.
The plaintiffs in the case have accused Harvard of discriminating against Asian-Americans by holding them to a higher standard than any other racial group. Defending itself, Harvard has been forced to reveal aspects of its admissions process that it kept closely held in the past, and some elements, like special treatment given to students whose relatives made major gifts to the university, have been jarring.
Ms. Lee, who grew up in Englewood, N.J. Seoul and Marin County, Calif., said she had long assumed that she would face discrimination in applying to college, partly because she had watched Asian friends with excellent grades and scores be rejected by their desired schools. She said that she had thought a lot about how to stand out from other Asian-American applicants. Ultimately, she applied to join the United States Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps. In her applications she emphasized her enthusiasm for the military and her ambition to be a trauma surgeon.
在新泽西州恩格尔伍德、首尔和加利福尼亚州马林县长大的李表示，她一直认为自己在申请大学时会遭到歧视，部分原因是因为她看到一些成绩优异的亚裔朋友被他们理想中的学校拒绝。她说，她考虑过如何从其他亚裔申请人中脱颖而出。最终，她申请加入美国空军预备役军官训练团(United States Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps)。在申请中，她强调自己对军队的热情以及成为创伤外科医生的雄心。
“I knew that I didn’t — whatever this means — I didn’t want to be the typical Asian,” she said.
She said that what she had read about the lawsuit, particularly the fact that Asian-American applicants were rated lower on personality traits than applicants of other backgrounds, convinced her that some admissions officers probably were prejudiced against Asian-Americans.
她说，自己从这起诉讼中了解到的，特别是亚裔申请人的性格评分低于其他背景申请人这一事实，使她确信一些招生人员可能对亚裔美国人有偏见。 “That’s just racist,” she said of the personal ratings. (Harvard’s dean of admissions and financial aid, William R. Fitzsimmons, suggested in testimony in court that high school teachers and guidance counselors were partly to blame, saying that recommendations for white students were stronger than those for Asian-American students.)
“这就是种族主义，”她说起这个个人评级系统。（哈佛大学的招生和经济援助主任威廉·R·菲茨西蒙斯[William R. Fitzsimmons]在法庭作证时表示，高中教师和辅导员也应承担部分责任，并说白人学生的推荐信要比亚裔学生更有力。）
Still, while she wanted Harvard to address that, she said she also opposed the plaintiffs’ effort to end affirmative action in the school’s admissions.
While the lawsuit directly accuses Harvard of discriminating against Asian-Americans, it also has shed light on an array of advantages that some applicants receive; legacies, for instance, who are admitted at five times the rate of non-legacy students, recruited athletes, and those whose relatives have made major donations.
From reading online forums where students compared their application profiles and discussed one another’s chance of getting in to different schools, Mr. Felkers had gleaned that his potential “hooks,” or advantages, were that he was from the Midwest, and that his parents were low-income.
“It’s like a punch to the stomach,” Mr. Felkers said. “Of course it’s going to make you feel insecure.”
“这就像对我的肚子打了一拳，”费尔克斯说。“当然，这会让你失去信心。” At Harvard, he said, his family’s poverty was often on his mind, especially when topics came up like what people’s parents did for a living or where they went to college. He said he frequently found himself internally debating how much to reveal.
“In a situation like this, we’re all just sitting around eating Oreos — I’m comfortable talking about my aid status,” he said.
“But if I’m, you know, on a Friday night, trying to get into a party thrown by, like, the heavyweight rowers, I’m not going to say, ‘Oh, by the way, I’m on full aid.’”
For Ms. Lavery, who is from Seattle, the discomfort has lingered since the conversation — during an August pre-orientation program — in which a classmate had casually suggested that most legacies were not qualified to be at Harvard. After that, she said she spent a lot of time thinking about whether to reveal that she was a legacy to friends that she was making in the program, some of whom came from low-income backgrounds.
“I was conscious of, ‘How am I going to tell that to them? Is it going to be a big deal when I tell them that? Is it going to change the way they think of me?’”
“At the same time I almost feel guilty saying that,” she quickly added, “because being a legacy affords me a privilege.”
“与此同时，我几乎感到内疚，”她很快补充说，“因为身为校友子女为我提供了特权。” Ms. Lavery’s maternal grandmother immigrated from Mexico and her maternal grandfather from India, so, she checked three boxes on her application, indicating that she was Hispanic, white and Asian. She said she knew that her racial and ethnic background could have played a role in her admission, as well.
“A lot of my thinking after I got in,” she said, “was like, ‘O.K., well, I know that these were factors, but I know that I’m qualified to go to this school,’ and so it’s kind of a balancing act.”
鲁尔是白人，毕业于纽约市史岱文森高中(Stuyvesant High School) ——该校令学生群体多样化的努力让一些亚裔美国人担心自己会被排除在外——在参与这次谈话的学生中，她是唯一一个不清楚自己到底是为什么获得入学资格的人。
Earlier in the week, she put in a request to see her own admissions file. Harvard has officially permitted students to see their admissions files since 2015, after a group of Stanford students successfully used a federal education law to gain access to their records. A Harvard spokeswoman said that the university had received roughly 200 such requests per month this fall.
In a moment when many people here are examining what has won some people admission over others, the chance to see one’s own file — complete with notes from admissions officers — can be tantalizing, though some students have said that they found the records cryptic.
Ms. Ruhl said she was simply curious. “This whole admissions process is such a mystery,” she said.