We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
They also discriminate against whites, especially white males in flyover country, and they discriminate for Jews, who are over-represented by about a factor of 6. So, the Ivys are just where they were 100 years ago, except they enforce a different set of bigotries.
Someone with a law background help me understand this. Harvard is a private institution. I would think they could set up their admission policies however they wanted. If they are interested in diversity of the student body, don't they have the right to reject a high-scoring person (of whatever background) in order to create the diversity they are looking for?
1. They are subject to the federal civil rights laws regulating "public accommodations" (which include schools, colleges and universities).
2. They are subject to the State's "public accommodations" laws, which mirror the fed's but often go further (i.e., includes such things as prohibiting discrimination against transgenderism).
3. They receive federal funding, so are subject to all the hundreds of political correctness requirements on race, gender, Title This and Title That, etc. that comes with that.
4. Ditto if a single student receives any federal financial assistance, student loans, etc.
5. Under the Bob Jones University case, they can lose their tax exempt status if they discriminate.
You are correct that technically they are not as fully subject as public institutions (which are treated as being the government itself), but with the overwhelming tentacles of the federal government now out there, there is not much difference. For example, I am in a private law firm. But because one of our clients is a federally regulated health care system, as a "service provider" to them we then become subject to all federal labor and anti-discrimination laws as a condition of being selected to perform legal services. The client cannot legally contract with any company that does not subject itself to federal regulation. I just had to sign a new engagement letter with this client reciting all the federal gibberish. Frankly, I don't know how much of that is in there because of Obamacare and how much is because of other laws.
There are a couple of institutions I understand take the position they are not subject to federal oversight (Hillsdale College and Grove City College are two that come to mind), but they have only been able to do that by refusing to take any government assistance, including prohibiting their students from getting any sort of government connected financial aid.
MIT's admission policy is that all underrepresented minority applicants - members of racial groups whose percentage of representation in the MIT student body is less than it's percentage in the U.S. population as a whole - who qualify for admission are offered admission. All others who qualify compete for the remaining spots, whether they are white, Asian, etc. Asian students are represented in the MIT student body well above their representation in the U.S. population as a whole. So while they are minorities, they are not "underrepresented minorities".