The Department of Justice in the United States on Thursday accused the Yale University of illegally discriminating against white and Asian-American applicants, reported BBC. The department threatened to file a lawsuit against the university if it refused to take “remedial measures”.

The Ivy League university has been found to have violated civil rights law in its undergraduate admissions process, according to a two-year-long investigation by the Department of Justice. “Yale uses race at multiple steps of its admissions process resulting in a multiplied effect of race on an applicant’s likelihood of admission,” the Department of Justice said in its report.

The country’s Supreme Court allows universities to use race as “one of a number of factors” during admissions.

The department has asked the university to suspend race or national origin as a factor in its admissions process for one year. “There is no such thing as a nice form of race discrimination,” Eric Dreiband, assistant attorney general for the civil rights division, said in a statement. “Unlawfully dividing Americans into racial and ethnic blocks fosters stereotypes, bitterness and division.”

Yale University President Peter Salovey said the allegations were baseless, reported The New York Times. “At this unique moment in our history, when so much attention properly is being paid to issues of race, Yale will not waver in its commitment to educating a student body whose diversity is a mark of its excellence.” The university added that it would not change its admission process “on the basis of such a meritless, hasty accusation”.

A university spokesperson said the institute had not yet provided all the information requested by the Department of Justice. “Had the Department fully received and fairly weighed this information, it would have concluded that Yale’s practices absolutely comply with decades of Supreme Court precedent,” Yale said in a statement.

In 2018, the US administration had backed Asian American students who accused Harvard University in a lawsuit of systematically discriminating against them. The allegations against Harvard are similar to that against Yale. The US government said Harvard favoured Black and Hispanic applicants at the expense of Asian Americans. Harvard had won the case in the district court.