The webmaster favors affirmative action based on income: a poor
kid who has the same qualifications as a richer kid should receive a
preference in university admissions.
– There is no reason the children of wealthy minorities, e.g. Michael Jordan,
Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby, etc. should benefit from affirmative action based on race.
– In California, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Texas, non-Hispanic whites are in the minority.
Arizona, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, and New York will soon join them.
Statistics on reverse discrimination against Asian Americans at the University of
California, UC medical schools, UC law schools, the University of Michigan, and other
states, please click on: http://home.sandiego.edu/~e_cook/
The 2009 book, No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission and
Campus Life, suggested that private institutions essentially admit black students with SAT scores 310
points below those of comparable white students. And the book argued that Asian-American applicants
need SAT scores 140 points higher than those of white students to stand the same chances of admission.
8/10/18 Wall Street Journal: “‘Diversity’ Looks a Lot Like Old-Fashioned Discrimination: I was barred from top law firms as a Harvard student in the ’60s. Today Asians face similar prejudice”
By Michael Blechman
Since my experience in 1965, all of the firms at which I had interviewed have overcome their prejudices and now hire and promote Jewish lawyers, as well as women, blacks, Hispanics and Asians. Kaye Scholer became similarly diverse.
Yet as the old kind of discrimination has died out, a new form has emerged—this time under the banner of “diversity.”
A continuing suit against my alma mater is a case in point. According to Students for Fair Admissions, a group representing Asian-American Harvard applicants who have been denied admission, an Asian-American applicant with a 25% chance of admission would, on the very same record, have a 35% chance if he were white and a 95% chance if he were African-American. Furthermore, Harvard’s admissions team has allegedly justified its rejection of qualified Asian-American applicants by giving negative assessments of their character traits. The result, according to the plaintiff, is a de facto quota for Asian-Americans—very much like the express quota of 20% imposed by Harvard on the number of Jews it would admit in the 1920s.
8/5/18 Wall Street Journal: “Harvard’s Education in Discrimination: A lawsuit is revealing the secrets of race in admissions”
By The Editorial Board
Consider Harvard’s “holistic” admissions review. Applicants are rated on a scale of one to six on academics, extracurricular activities, athletics and highly subjective “personal” criteria. Admissions officers also assign applicants an overall score.
According to Students for Fair Admissions, Asian-Americans boasted higher extracurricular and academic ratings than all other racial groups. They also received higher scores from alumni interviewers. But they were rated disproportionately lower on personal criteria. Only about one in five Asian-Americans in the top 10% of academic performers received a “2” personal rating. Yet blacks and Hispanics with much lower grades and SAT scores received high personal ratings.
Asian-Americans also disproportionately received lower composite scores. Blacks in the top 10% of academic performers were three times more likely than Asian-Americans to receive a “2” overall rating (“1” is the best). A sample of applicant summary sheets disproportionately refer to Asian-Americans as “busy and bright” and “standard strong”—labels that liberals might call micro-aggressions.
Following complaints of discrimination, Harvard’s Office of Institutional Research (OIR) in 2013 produced three internal reports showing its admissions process was biased against Asian-Americans. Harvard disclosed the reports during discovery in the lawsuit. One report found that purely “demographic” factors reduced the share of admitted Asian-Americans by 30% while increasing the proportion of admitted Latinos by about 140% and blacks by 370%.
OIR shared its studies with Harvard administrators who did not ask the researchers questions, suggest further investigation or publish the findings. Were administrators unperturbed or merely uninterested?
8/1/18 The College Fix: “Economists approve statistical model that finds Harvard discriminates against Asians”
Having reviewed both Arcidiacono’s and Card’s work, the five economists sided with the former’s conclusion that the personal ratings are biased:
Asian-American applicants in the top academic decile are less likely to receive a high personal-rating score than white applicants in the top 50%. This remarkable racial disparity does not appear in the personal ratings given by alumni who actually interview applicants.
Arcidiacono “reasonably concludes” that non-racial factors can’t explain the lower personal-rating scores, they said: Asian-Americans would have a 20 percent better chance of scoring the highest or second-highest personal rating if they were treated the same as whites.
The economists point to “highly suspect patterns in the observed data” as evidence of bias in the personal-rating scores.
“Asian-American applicants clearly outperform other applicants in the academic measures,” and they score similarly to whites on non-academic measures while “generally” performing better than African Americans and Hispanics. They are lower in only two ways: personal rating and athletics.
The low personal ratings stand in contrast to the tendency of applicants with strong academic ratings to also have higher non-academic ratings “across all dimensions, regardless of race,” according to the economists:
Inexplicably, the most academically competitive Asian Americans do much worse in Harvard’s personal-rating score than do academically similar applicants of other races. … In other words, personal-rating scores make the top-performing Asian-American applicants less competitive while making other top-performing applicants more competitive.
Because only applicants with at least the second-highest rating on both the personal and academic scores get admitted, this curtails Asian-American admissions.
The economists also note the curiosity of the racial distribution of the personal scores. Quoting Arcidiacono, they say: “In every academic decile, African Americans have the highest share” of applicants scoring at that second-highest or highest score, “followed by Hispanics, then whites, then Asian Americans.” This suggests Harvard “puts significant weight on race in assigning personal ratings.” . . . . . . . . . .
Both Duke economist Arcidiacono and Harvard’s Office of Institutional Research found that Asians had a strikingly lower admission rate than whites, blacks and Hispanics going back to at least 2007, despite the fact that Asians outscored every other group on the SAT.
Arcidiacono further found the Asian-American admission rate was even lower than the total admission rate, going back to the class of 2000. “This stagnancy” in the Asian share of the Harvard population, between 18 and 21 percent, occurred as the Asian-American population boomed, NAS said.
6/18/18 Inside HigherEd: “Smoking Gun on Anti-Asian Bias at Harvard? Internal reports, released by those suing the university, show use of personality rankings in ways that hurt Asian applicants’ chances of admission. Under academic criteria only, their numbers would go way up”
By Scott Jaschik
That’s because the documents suggest that Harvard was aware that Asian-Americans are the primary group feeling “negative effects” of various admissions policies. The suit was brought by a group called Students for Fair Admissions, and it charges Harvard with using affirmative action policies that go beyond those legally permitted by several Supreme Court decisions. To the extent that the documents indicate substantially different admissions standards (for academic achievement) for applicants from different racial and ethnic groups, the evidence could be significant. The consideration of personality factors appears to substantially disadvantage Asian-American applicants. . . .
But some of the internal documents Harvard was forced to provide the plaintiffs suggest that Asian applicants may be at a disadvantage even when other factors are considered. Take, for example, low-income status, defined by Harvard as family income less than $60,000 a year. All groups that apply to Harvard are more likely to be admitted if they are from low-income families than from other families. But the rate is lower for Asian-American applicants from low-income families than it is for all other domestic groups. And low-income Asian applicants are less likely to be admitted than are higher-income black applicants, and they are equally likely to be admitted as are higher-income white applicants. . . .
The analysis compared the then-current makeup of the student body with what it would be based on other ways of determining who gets in. An “academics only” policy (focusing on grades and test scores) would have more than doubled the share of the class that was Asian and significantly cut the enrollment levels of black and Latino students. . . .
Peter Arcidiacono, a professor of economics at Duke University, found consistent patterns for the treatment of Asian-American applicants with certain grades, test scores and other factors such that an Asian-American applicant with a 25 percent chance of admission would have a 35 percent chance if he were white, a 75 percent chance if he were Latino, and a 95 percent chance if he were African-American.
The information released by the plaintiffs suggests that they are making the case that Harvard has a two-tiered (or multiple-tiered) admissions process in which Asian-Americans are evaluated in different (more stringent) ways. That is significant because it would run counter to what the Supreme Court has permitted — which is holistic review in which race and ethnicity are considered, but only as part of an in-depth review considering many factors, in which students of all groups have a fair shot. In other words, the Supreme Court is not bothered by an applicant from an underrepresented minority group being admitted over another applicant with higher grades and test scores. But both must be evaluated under essentially the same system.
Another part of the Supreme Court’s guidance on affirmative action that the plaintiffs are applying to Harvard is the requirement that institutions that want to consider race or ethnicity in admissions or other decisions first consider whether race-neutral approaches might yield sufficient levels of diversity. On this issue, the plaintiffs submitted a brief by Richard D. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation and a long-standing advocate of using class-based affirmative action rather than race-based affirmative action.
Kahlenberg wrote that he provided Harvard with approaches — rejected by the university — that would have kept much (but not all) of the current enrollment levels of black and Latino students while increasing the enrollment of low-income students. He said that this could be done several ways, either by explicitly considering economic status but not race, or through “place-based” affirmative action, in which preference would be granted to those who live in disadvantaged neighborhoods. . . .
Robert Zimmer, president of the University of Chicago, was concerned by the idea that “definitions of character” or evaluating personalities would result in candidates of superior academic quality being rejected. He noted that for much of the first half of the 20th century, “these character issues and definitions of character were put in place to keep Jews out of Ivy League institutions.” And he said that if colleges evaluate personality characteristics, they should “constantly” ask why they are favoring certain characteristics over others.
6/15/18 Bloomberg: “Harvard Study Found Asian-American Admissions Bias, Suit Claims”
By Patricia Hurtado, Janelle Lawrence, and Sydney Maki
Harvard University’s own researchers found statistical evidence that its undergraduate application process discriminated against Asian-American applicants, yet its admissions officials ignored the results and took no action, a group suing for bias claimed.
In 2013, the Harvard Office of Institutional Research said that Asian-Americans should comprise 43.4 percent of the admitted class if they were judged purely on their academic merit, the organization, Students for Fair Admissions, said in a federal court filing Friday.
Asian-Americans should have made up 26 percent of the student body, even after accounting for the Ivy League school’s preferences for the children of alumni and recruited athletes and the university’s more subjective “personal ratings,” the Harvard office found, according to the plaintiff’s court filing.
Students for Fair Admissions, which filed suit in 2014, told a federal judge in Boston on Friday that these findings are part of the “incontrovertible” evidence that the university has “engineered the admissions process to achieve” illegal goals. The organization says that Asian-Americans are subject to the same kind of quotas that kept many Jews out of Ivy League colleges in the first half of the 20th century — and the Trump administration has indicated it is sympathetic to their argument.
The group’s lawyers also said Harvard engages in “racial balancing,’’ to ensure a minimum percentage of students from minority groups. Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton and other elite schools hold what are called “round robin’’ meetings where they share nonpublic information about the racial compositions of their class, according to the lawsuit. Harvard’s admissions office examines these kinds of racial breakdowns as it fine-tunes its admissions decisions, the complaint says.
6/15/18 New York Times: “Harvard Rated Asian-American Applicants Lower on Personality Traits, Lawsuit Says”
By Anemona Hartocollis
Harvard consistently rated Asian-American applicants lower than any other race on personal traits like “positive personality,” likability, courage, kindness and being “widely respected,” according to an analysis of more than 160,000 student records filed Friday in federal court in Boston by a group representing Asian-American students in a lawsuit against the university.
Asian-Americans scored higher than applicants of any other racial or ethnic group on admissions measures like test scores, grades and extracurricular activities, according to the analysis commissioned by a group that opposes all race-based admissions criteria. But the students’ personal ratings significantly dragged down their chances of being admitted, the analysis found.
“It turns out that the suspicions of Asian-American alumni, students and applicants were right all along,” the group, Students for Fair Admissions, said in a court document laying out the analysis. “Harvard today engages in the same kind of discrimination and stereotyping that it used to justify quotas on Jewish applicants in the 1920s and 1930s.”
Harvard’s own researchers cited a bias against Asian-American applicants in a series of internal reports in 2013. But Harvard ignored the findings, the court papers said, and never publicly released them.
6/15/18 Reuters: “Harvard records show discrimination against Asian-Americans: group”
by Nate Raymond
BOSTON (Reuters) – Harvard University killed an internal investigation in 2013 that found evidence the Ivy League school’s admissions system is biased against Asian-American applicants, a nonprofit group suing the university alleged in a court filing on Friday.
The claim by Students for Fair Admissions Inc came in a brief that sought to have a federal judge in Boston rule in its favor without a trial in a closely watched lawsuit accusing Harvard of discriminating against Asian-Americans.
In court papers, Arlington, Virginia-based Students for Fair Admissions said an Asian-American male applicant with a 25 percent chance of admission would have a 35 percent chance if he was white, 75 percent if he were Hispanic and a 95 percent chance if he were black.
It said that in 2013, a Harvard research division found that over a decade Asian-American admission rates were lower than those for whites annually even though whites only outperformed Asian-American applicants on a subjective rating of a student’s personality.
But the group said Harvard ultimately killed the study and buried the reports from it.
6/15/18 Bloomberg TV: “Harvard Study Finds Admissions Bias Against Asian-Americans”
6/8/18 The Weekly Standard: “The Balancing Game: Investigating discrimination at Harvard”
The Center for Equal Opportunity has released a study of enrollment data trends for three selective schools—Caltech, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and, yes, Harvard. Authored by Althea Nagai, a research fellow at CEO (where I have an affiliation), the paper bears the ironic title—not one the suing students would fail to cheer—“Too Many Asian Americans: Affirmative Discrimination in Elite College Admissions.”
Caltech doesn’t use racial references to admit students, while both MIT and Harvard do. Asian-American applicants to colorblind Caltech have proved so well qualified that they now win more than 40 percent of the seats in a class. Asian-American applicants to MIT and Harvard are no less qualified than those accepted by Caltech, and yet they are awarded many fewer seats than in the California school.
At MIT, says Nagai, after years of increases in the number of Asian-Americans admitted, a high-water mark of 29 percent was reached in 1995, after which the school saw a slow decline to 26 percent, where it remains today. At Harvard, Asian-American undergraduate enrollment increased to 21 percent in 1993 before dropping over the next few years to the level sustained since, which is roughly 17 percent.
Nagai takes those numbers as evidence that there is a “cap” or “ceiling” on how many Asian-American applicants MIT and Harvard will admit. She assumes there are such caps on Asian-American admissions at most elite schools and sees them as discriminatory and illegal.
A recent article in the Harvard Law Review cites studies showing that Asian-Americans have “the lowest acceptance rates of all racial groups.” At the same time, conventional indicators of academic merit show that they “tend to be better qualified than the average applicant.” That means, as the article says, that Asian-Americans must “perform better than all other groups to have the same chance of admission.” Which raises the question, how much better?
Research by the Princeton sociologists Thomas J. Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford helps provide an answer. Their study of preferential admissions at eight elite schools found that, to have such a chance, Asian-American applicants would have to score (on the “old” SAT) 140 points higher than white applicants, 270 higher than Hispanics, and 450 higher than black applicants, all other factors remaining the same.
Espenshade and Radford didn’t publish their book until 2009. But the probabilities of admission it reported are unlikely to have changed or we would know it.
Somehow Harvard is able year by year to admit and enroll the same percentage of blacks, Hispanics, whites and Asian-Americans, even though, says the complaint, “the application rates and qualifications for each racial group have undergone significant changes over time.” SFFA sees the “remarkably stable admissions and enrollment figures” as “the deliberate result of system-wide intentional discrimination designed to achieve a predetermined racial balance of its student body.”
5/25/2018 Chicago Tribune: “Asian-Americans face an unfair ceiling in college admissions”
by Linda Chavez
My Center for Equal Opportunity this week published a study looking at Asian acceptance rates at three elite universities: Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology. The study’s author, Dr. Althea Nagai, found that the two universities that use race and ethnicity as factors in admission, Harvard and MIT, appear to cap Asian acceptance rates, much as rates of acceptance for Jews were limited by elite schools in early eras.
Nagai shows that at both Harvard and MIT, Asian admissions seem to have hit a ceiling over the past 20 years or even declined. At MIT, Asian admissions peaked in 1995 at 29 percent and have declined slightly since, to 26 percent in 2016. At Harvard, admissions for Asians hit a high of 21 percent in 1993, dropped and have remained nearly constant at 17 percent since then. A suit against Harvard by Asian students alleging racial discrimination is set to be argued later this year.
By contrast, Nagai’s analysis shows that Caltech — which does not use race as a factor in admissions — has seen a steady increase in the number of Asians admitted over the past two decades. In 2016, 43 percent of students admitted to Caltech were Asians, but more importantly, the trend line since the late 1990s has been going up almost every year. Caltech has not applied a ceiling to Asian admissions, which is why it has more than twice the percentage of such students as Harvard and 65 percent more than MIT.
As an interesting aside, Caltech manages to admit a large percentage of Hispanic students, 12 percent, even without using race or ethnicity as a plus factor.
5/1/18 The Hill: “Affirmative action in education looks an awful lot like bigotry — especially to Asian-Americans”
3/9/18 The Federalist: “New York City Progressives Try (And Fail) To Limit Asians At Top Schools”
2/15/18 Business Insider: “Asian-American groups are saying affirmative action hurts their chances to get into Ivy League schools”
1/23/18 Sacramento Bee: “The next battle over affirmative action is about discrimination against Asian Americans”
1/21/18 Wall Street Journal: “Colorblindness Succeeds in California”
By David A. Lehrer
In 1996 California voters approved Proposition 209, an amendment to the California Constitution: “The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.” Because of Proposition 209, California’s public universities have used colorblind admissions for two decades, although they actively consider applicants’ socioeconomic status.
The results have been a stunning success. Last year the Equality of Opportunity Project conducted a nationwide longitudinal study to find which colleges were doing the most to help poor students succeed. Of the top 10 ranked, five were California public schools. Among America’s elite colleges, the University of California, Los Angeles, enrolled the highest share of low- and middle-income students (19%). In the University of California system, 43% of the freshman class admitted in 2016 were the first in their families to attend college, and 37% had family incomes under $47,200 a year.
This colorblind admission system nonetheless produces college classrooms that are a fairly accurate cross-section of California’s racial and ethnic diversity. In 2017 admitted freshmen throughout the UC system were 34% Asian, 33% Latino, 24% white and 5% African-American. In the Cal State system, the figures were 47% Latino, 20% white, 16% Asian and Filipino, and 4% African-American.
For comparison, California’s high-school seniors are 52% Latino, 24% white, 11% Asian and Filipino, and 6% African-American. And of course not all seniors qualify for admission to a university, let alone the UC system.
These figures for minority admissions in the UC schools exceed many of the targets they had set before Proposition 209. Since 1996, Latinos as a share of enrollment have grown from 14% to 33%, Asians from 28% to 34%, and African-Americans from 4% to 5%. Whites have declined from 41% to 24%.
This diversity has been achieved while maintaining the quality of California’s public universities. The latest college rankings from U.S. News & World Report list UCLA and UC Berkeley as tied for the top public school in the country. Four other UCs (Santa Barbara, Irvine, San Diego and Davis) are among the top dozen.
Today’s colorblind system is working well for all Californians—rich and poor, minority and white—and is a model for the rest of the country.
Mr. Lehrer is president of Community Advocates Inc., a civil-rights organization in Los Angeles.
12/7/17 Harvard Law Review: “The Harvard Plan that Failed Asians”
11/1/17 Capital Research: “Affirmative Action Targets Asian Americans”
10/20/17 Georgetown Hoya: EDITORIAL: Refocus Admissions on Merit
by Editorial Board
As admissions season gets underway, nearly 20,000 hopeful students will vie for a spot in the Georgetown University Class of 2022. Last year, a mere 15.4 percent of the 21,465 applicants were accepted.
In this admissions cycle, Georgetown should evaluate applicants on their merit alone by ceasing the practice of race-based affirmative action in its admissions process. This practice not only discriminates against particular demographics of students, specifically against fully qualified Asian students, but also perpetuates racist attitudes toward Asians.
This editorial board believes that all students deserve a fair chance to be admitted to competitive universities based only on their merit as applicants.
Affirmative action in university admissions was first implemented in the 1960s to redress the significant disadvantages that minority students often faced as a result of centuries of starkly discriminatory policies. Nevertheless, lifting up some minority groups by disadvantaging others does not achieve the idea of racial justice that this policy set out to accomplish.
In August, it was reported that the Department of Justice would begin investigating affirmative action policies at universities. It is widely believed this investigation will focus on a lawsuit against Harvard University that alleges discrimination against Asian-Americans under Harvard’s affirmative action policies.
The topic of affirmative action has also been extensively debated at the Supreme Court level. Most recently, the 2016 Fisher v. University of Texas case held that the University of Texas at Austin’s use of race-based affirmative action as part of a holistic assessment was acceptable as long as it supported educational diversity.
But empirical data demonstrates this discrimination against Asian-American students. A study conducted by Princeton University shows that applicants of comparable qualifications who identify as Asian must score 140 points higher on the SAT than white applicants to have the same chance of admission to private colleges, as The New York Times reported.
Proponents of affirmative action argue that this disparity is a result of universities’ desire to maintain holistic and diverse classes, which requires consideration of more than just academic ability.
However, the blanket discrimination against Asian-American students in the admissions process ignores the enormous diversity within this label. This diversity undermines the argument that affirmative action is intended to foster greater diversity in universities.
Looking past the label of “Asian-American,” it becomes evident that there are historically disadvantaged populations in the group itself. Thirty percent of all Americans over the age of 25 have a bachelor’s degree, according to the Pew Research Center. While 72 percent of Indian-Americans have a bachelor’s degree or a higher degree, the numbers are anemic for Laotian-Americans, at 16 percent, and Bhutanese-Americans, at 9 percent, the center found.
Moreover, as The New Yorker explains, the diverse class argument would only be plausible if Asian-American applicants overall were significantly less likely than other applicants to have the particular, often abstract, nonacademic qualities that universities look for, such as leadership and a willingness to take initiative. This notion only serves to perpetuate the racist myth of the “model minority,” which uniformly depicts all Asian-American students as academically achieving individuals who are stunted in other areas.
In addition, a comparison of Asian-American enrollment at universities before and after they ceased affirmative action policies indicates that the policy disproportionately hurt this group of students, as is clear from the work of David Colburn, a professor and former provost at the University of Florida.
Colburn’s work found that at selective public universities that ended race-based affirmative action, such as the University of Florida and the University of California, Berkeley, the proportion of Asian Americans increased dramatically after the policy’s termination.
For example, the proportion of Asian American freshmen at Berkeley rose to from 37.3 percent in 1995 to 46.6 percent in 2005. California barred affirmative action in university admissions processes in 1996.
As is empirically evident, affirmative action discriminates against Asian-Americans. The system of college admissions masks itself as a meritocracy but in practice is suppressing a historically marginalized minority group in the name of racial justice.
Those who champion affirmative action in the name of racial justice fail to recognize that discrimination against one minority group to elevate other groups is not an acceptable means to an end; as such, race-based affirmative action must end.
8/6/17 Wall Street Journal: “What Is Harvard Hiding? Evidence of bias against Asian-Americans deserves legal scrutiny”
By The Editorial Board
In 2015 a coalition of more than 60 Asian-American groups filed a complaint with the Justice Department Civil Rights Division that alleges admissions discrimination at Harvard University, and the details are striking. In 1993 about 20% of Harvard students were Asian-American, and that figure has barely budged over two decades, even as the Asian-American share of the U.S. population has grown rapidly. Harvard’s admitted class of 2021 is 22% Asian-American, according to data on the university’s website, and the numbers are roughly consistent at Princeton, Yale and other Ivy League schools.
Compare that with California, where a 1990s referendum banned the state’s public universities from considering race as an admissions factor. The share at University of California campuses at Berkeley and Los Angeles tops 30%, as the complaint notes. At the private California Institute of Technology, which by choice does not consider race as a factor, more than 40% of students were Asian-American in 2013, up from 26% in 1993.
Also notable is research on how much more competitive Asian-Americans must be to win entry into Harvard or other hallowed progressive halls. All else being equal, an Asian-American must score 140 points higher on the SAT than a white counterpart, 270 points higher than a Hispanic student, and 450 points higher than a black applicant, according to 2009 research from Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade and co-author Alexandria Walton Radford.
The Asian-American disparities look like evidence of de facto admissions quotas that the High Court has explicitly declared illegal.
A lawsuit from the nonprofit Students for Fair Admissions makes similar allegations against Harvard, and discovery will be instructive.
If colleges are enforcing quotas on qualified applicants merely because of their ethnicity, the term for that is familiar to progressive academics: institutional racism.
4/20/17 The Daily Princetonian: “Behind the veil: The racism of Princeton’s affirmative action”
By Hayley Siegel
The University is suing the United States Department of Education in an attempt to keep seven years of admissions records hidden from the public. The cover-up is hardly unexpected — Princeton engages in discriminatory admissions policies under the pretext of “affirmative action” despite having lost sight of the very goals that the concept was originally intended to promote. There is no denying that Princeton, like many of its peers, uses race-based affirmative action in its admissions decisions, a process that has engendered an apparent quota on students of Asian descent.
3/28/17 Wall Street Journal: “Is the Ivy League’s Admission Bias a ‘Trade Secret’? Princeton sues to block the government’s release of documents that could show discrimination”
By Jason L. Riley
Last year Mr. Blum’s organization filed a public records Freedom of Information Act request with the Education Department to gain access to the same documents that the federal government used to clear Princeton of any wrongdoing. Mr. Blum’s organization represents a group of Asian plaintiffs who are suing Harvard University over its admissions policies. The judge in that case has ordered Harvard to turn over six years of admissions records, and Mr. Blum suspects that the data will show that Harvard is unlawfully capping Asian enrollment.
America’s Asian population has exploded in recent decades, and Asian attendance at highly selective schools with colorblind admissions, such the California Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley, reflects this demographic trend. At Harvard, however, the percentage of Asian undergrads has remained remarkably consistent for an institution that claims race is not a determining factor in who is admitted. Mr. Blum suspects that Princeton engages in similar shenanigans, but the school has been pressuring the Education Department to deny him the information that he requested more than a year ago.
Concerned that the government was finally going to fulfill the FOIA request, Princeton sued the Education Department on March 17 to block the release of the admissions documents. The suit argues that the material being sought is exempt from FOIA, a claim that the government has rejected. The school also maintains that releasing the data would compromise student privacy, and it likened its admissions process to “trade secrets” that, if exposed, would put Princeton at a competitive disadvantage in attracting students.
Don’t believe it. Admissions officers switch schools all the time, presumably taking knowledge of admissions procedures with them, and the criteria used by elite institutions to evaluate applicants is not the equivalent of an iPhone patent. Nor is student privacy an issue since names, addresses and other personal information can be redacted. Mr. Blum’s organization simply wants the number of Asians who have applied to Princeton, their SAT scores and grade-point averages, and other information that the school used to analyze applicants academically.
What really concerns Princeton is a potential discrimination lawsuit. What ought to concern the rest of us is the apparent determination of elite colleges to punish Asians students for their academic success. Asians have long been the forgotten victims of liberal affirmative-action schemes, subject to unwritten “just for Asian” admissions standards that recall the treatment of Jews in the first half of the 20th century. Princeton wants them to shut up about it. Let’s hope they don’t.
3/7/17 AsAm News: “Likely Lawsuit to Allege UT Austin Discriminates Against Asian Americans”
The same anti-affirmative group that twice went to the U.S. Supreme Court to sue the University of Texas, Austin, for discrimination is laying the groundwork for a third lawsuit.
My Statesman reports Students for Fair Admissions is recruiting students who feel they were unfairly rejected for a possible case.
According to the Harvard Crimson, this time the lawsuit will focus on Asian Americans.
1/30/17 New York Times: “White Students’ Unfair Advantage in Admissions”
by Andrew Lam
A 2009 Princeton study showed Asian-Americans had to score 140 points higher on their SATs than whites, 270 points higher than Hispanics and 450 points higher than blacks to have the same chance of admission to leading universities. A lawsuit filed in 2014 accused Harvard of having a cap on the number of Asian students — the percentage of Asians in Harvard’s student body had remained about 16 percent to 19 percent for two decades even though the Asian-American percentage of the population had more than doubled. In 2016, the Asian American Coalition for Education filed a complaint with the Department of Education against Yale, where the Asian percentage had remained 13 percent to 16 percent for 20 years, as well as Brown and Dartmouth, urging investigation of their admissions practices for similar reasons.
There’s ample evidence that Asian-Americans are at a disadvantage in college admissions. This issue has divided Asians and others who debate the relative benefits of diversity versus meritocracy in our society.
But if Asians are being held back, it’s not so much because of affirmative action but because of preference for whites. The 450-point advantage that the Princeton study demonstrated blacks have over Asians draws the most attention. But the number that is most revealing is the 140-point advantage for whites over Asians.
Often-cited examples of race-blind meritocracy are New York City’s elite public schools, such as Stuyvesant High School, for which admission is based solely on a standardized test. Stuyvesant is about 74 percent Asian, 18 percent white, 3 percent Hispanic, 1 percent black, with 4 percent multiracial or other. In California, where race-based affirmative action was eliminated in 1996, admission at the University of California at Berkeley is 42 percent Asian.
Andrew Lam is an assistant professor of ophthalmology at Tufts University School of Medicine, and the author of “Saving Sight” and “Two Sons of China.”
9/22/16 Inside Higher Ed: “Pressure to Build the Class: 2016 Survey of Admissions Directors”
By Scott Jaschik
And in a potentially notable finding, a significant minority of college admissions directors now say (in contrast to past surveys but consistent with the views of many advocates for Asian-American applicants) that their colleges generally admit only Asian applicants with higher grades and test scores than other applicants.
A significant minority indicated that they believe Asian-American applicants are held to a higher standard generally, and that this is the case at their institutions.
Admissions Directors on Asian-American Applicants
Do you believe that some colleges are holding Asian-American applicants to higher standards?
Public 39% Yes Private 42% Yes
At your college, do Asian-American applicants who are admitted generally have higher grades and test scores than other applicants?
Public 41% Yes Private 30% Yes
6/24/16 SCOTUS Blog: “Symposium: A disappointing decision, but more lawsuits are on the way”
by Elizabeth Slattery
Yesterday’s ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin was disappointing, to say the least. Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion, allowing UT to continue using a race-conscious admissions program without sufficiently articulating its “diversity goal” or providing proof that it was meeting that goal, betrays his previous equal protection jurisprudence and the belief that we have a colorblind Constitution.
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The silver lining is that more cases are on the way. Lawsuits are currently pending in federal district courts that challenge the racially discriminatory admissions policies of Harvard and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. The Harvard suit was brought by Asian-American applicants who claim they were denied admission because the university has put limits on the number of Asian Americans it will admit, similar to the racist quotas and caps that Ivy League schools put on the number of Jewish students they would admit in the 1920s. The plaintiffs in the North Carolina case highlight the fact that the university conducted a study showing that if the school dropped its racial preference policy and switched to a “top ten percent plan” like Texas, its minority enrollment would soar.
Additionally, more than 130 Asian-American organizations recently asked the Department of Education and the Justice Department to investigate Yale University, Brown University, and Dartmouth College for their use of discriminatory policies, which they claim amount to race-based quotas that lock out well-qualified Asian-American applicants.
They point to data from the Department of Education showing that Asian-American enrollment at Brown and Yale has been stagnant since 1995, and at Dartmouth since 2004, despite an increase in highly qualified Asian-American students applying to these schools during that time. In fact, data show that Asian Americans must score, on average, “approximately 140 point[s] higher than a White student, 270 points higher than a Hispanic student and 450 points higher than a Black student on the SAT, in order to have the same chance of admission.” The groups suspect Yale, Brown, Dartmouth, and other Ivy League schools “impose racial quotas and caps to maintain what they believe are ideal racial balances,” harkening back to the days of the Chinese Exclusion Act and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
Like many other schools, Yale, Brown, and Dartmouth use a “holistic” approach to evaluate applicants, which allows race and ethnicity to become a large factor in the admission equation. In their complaint, the Asian-American groups assert that these colleges rely on stereotypes and biases to deny Asian-Americans admission. Admission board reviewers’ notes track the stereotypes: “He’s quiet and, of course, wants to be a doctor” or her “scores and application seem so typical of other Asian applications I’ve read: Extraordinarily gifted in math with the opposite extreme in English.”
Since the admissions policies at these schools are highly secretive, they freely discriminate against Asian-American applicants. In fact, Yale’s law school recently began destroying its admissions records, presumably to avoid having to disclose the criteria such as race and other standards they use to determine admissions.
5/13/16 Inside Higher Education: “Stop Anti-Asian Bias: Whatever the Supreme Court says about affirmative action, it is time for elite colleges to stop favoring white applicants over Asian Americans”
By Hrishikesh Joshi
Any day now the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on Fisher v. University of Texas. The case concerns a lawsuit filed by Abigail Fisher, a white applicant who was denied admission to UT. Fisher argues that her race played a role in the admissions decision, and this, she claims, constituted a violation of her rights.
Yet one feature of modern college admissions practices in the United States that can often be overlooked in this discussion is that white applicants receive a significant boost relative to Asian-Americans. This is among the findings of a major study by Princeton sociologists Thomas J. Epenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford, who also observe that Hispanic and African-American applicants receive a boost relative to whites.
3/27/16 Jersey Pinoy: “Stuyvesant’s Case”
Recent media reports say that Asian-Americans account for almost three-fourths of the enrollment at Stuyvesant High School, one of the city’s eight specialized, elite public high schools that strictly use test scores as basis for admission. “Each November, over 28,000 eight and ninth graders take the two-and-a-half hour Specialized High Schools Admission Test, and roughly 800 students, or 2.8% of applicants, are accepted to Stuyvesant each year,” Wikipedia says. Of this small number of successful applicants, over 70% are Asian, Sara happily being one of them this year. But getting into Stuyvesant is not an easy job. Sara had to give up many weekends for months to take SHSAT test preparation classes at Kweller Prep, doing writing assignments and practice tests on top of her regular I.S. 73 homework for many days. We spent close to $5K of our savings on sessions that began as early as the fall of 2014 and ended in an intensive one-week after school session days before the October 2015 test.
2/15/16 The Unz Review: “Meritocracy: Harvard PR vs. Factual Reality”
But the per capita enrollment for Asian-Americans of college-age has shown an almost continuous decline over the last twenty years, now being 60% lower than in 1995. One would think that an apparent drop in enrollment of some 60% would have at least raised questions at Harvard’s admissions office. Has Asian academic performance collapsed during these two decades? Are Asians no longer applying to Harvard in large numbers? I’d hope we can disregard the possibility of any anti-Asian bias in Harvard’s vaunted “holistic admissions methods,” enshrined as exemplary by the U.S. Supreme Court in its landmark Bakke decision.
Yet oddly enough, those dramatic changes at Harvard seem quite similar to what happened at most other elite colleges during that same period. Producing similar charts is just as easy, and nearly all of them show exactly the same pattern, sometimes even exhibiting a drop in Asian enrollment significantly greater than that at Harvard (though with Princeton being one of the very few exceptions). For example, here are the charts for Yale and Stanford:
1/6/16 Inside Higher Ed: “‘Inside Graduate Admissions’: What goes on behind closed doors when professors decide who should get chance to earn a Ph.D.? Author of new book was allowed to watch. She saw elitism, a heavy focus on the GRE and some troubling conversations”
By Scott Jaschik
. . .But the question of who gets into Ph.D. programs has by comparison escaped much discussion.
That may change with the publication of Inside Graduate Admissions: Merit, Diversity and Faculty Gatekeeping, out this month from Harvard University Press. Julie R. Posselt (right), the author and an assistant professor of higher education at the University of Michigan, obtained permission from 10 highly ranked departments at three research universities to watch their reviews of candidates. . . . . . .
Across departments and disciplines, Posselt tracks a strong focus on ratings, a priority on GRE scores that extends beyond what most department would admit (or that creators of the test would advise), and some instances of what could be seen as discrimination. Of the latter, she describes a pattern in which faculty members effectively practice affirmative action for all applicants who are not from East Asia, effectively having one set of GRE standards for the students from China and elsewhere in East Asia and another, lower requirement for everyone else. And she describes one instance in which a candidate was strongly critiqued and eventually passed over in part related to her having attended a religious undergraduate institution. (More on both of those issues later.)
1/1/16 Breitbart: “The Campaign to Suppress Asian Success in Schools”
by Dr. Susan Berry1
Policy expert Betsy McCaughey says the overwhelming academic success of Asian-American students has stoked the outrage of school officials and non-Asian parents across the nation.
12/29/15 New York Post: “From NYC to Harvard: the war on Asian success”
by Betsy McCaughey
The outrage is that instead of embracing the example of these Asian families, school authorities and non-Asian parents want to rig the system to hold them back. It’s happening here in New York City, in suburban New Jersey and across the nation.
7/9/15 Forbes: “Stereotyping Asian-Americans: Harvard Calls It ‘Diversity’ But It’s More Like Racial Balancing”
by YuKong Zhao
While Harvard University says it champions diversity, its real focus is on racial balancing.
Each year, many Asian-American students with top SAT scores and GPAs who demonstrate excellent leadership skills (plus countless awards) are unjustifiably rejected by Harvard and other Ivy League schools. Asian-American admission rates at these universities have remained around 14-18% for the past 20 years, while during that same time period, the percentage of Asian-Americans between the ages of 18 and 21 almost doubled.
6/9/15 Los Angeles Times: “Op-Ed The truth about ‘holistic’ college admissions”
By Sara Harberson
I worked in admissions at the University of Pennsylvania and at Franklin & Marshall College, and I can tell you something about what goes on. Elite universities — public and private — practice what is called “holistic admissions,” a policy based on the idea that a test score or GPA does not completely reflect who a student is and what he or she can bring to a college community. It allows a college to factor in a student’s background, challenges overcome, extracurricular involvement, letters of recommendation, special talents, writing ability and many other criteria. Private schools and many public universities can include race among the characteristics they consider, as long as they don’t apply racial quotas.
Has holistic admissions become a guise for allowing cultural and even racial biases to dictate the admissions process? To some degree, yes.
A tag is the proverbial golden ticket for a student applying to an elite institution. A tag identifies a student as a high priority for the institution. Typically students with tags are recruited athletes, children of alumni, children of donors or potential donors, or students who are connected to the well connected. The lack of a tag can hinder an otherwise strong, high-achieving student. Asian American students typically don’t have these tags.
6/5/15 Wall Street Journal: “Harvard’s Chinese Exclusion Act: An immigrant businessman explains his legal challenge to racial quotas that keep Asian-Americans out of elite colleges”
By Kate Bachelder
First, a few facts. Asian-Americans are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, and the share of college-age Asian-Americans climbed to 5.1% in 2011 from 3% in 1990. Yet according to independent research cited in the complaint, members of this 5% make up roughly 30% of National Merit semifinalists, a distinction earned by high-school students based on PSAT scores. Asian-American students seem to win a similar share of the Education Department’s Presidential Scholar awards, “one of the nation’s highest honors for high-school students,” as the website puts it. By any standard, Asian-Americans have made remarkable gains since 1950. They constituted 0.2% of the U.S. population then, due in part to the legacy of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.
Harvard admissions do not reflect these changes or gains. The percentage of Asian-American students has held remarkably steady since the 1990s. This spring, 21% of the students admitted to Harvard were Asian-American; in 1993 it was about 20%. Harvard selects students based on criteria it calls “holistic,” taking into consideration subjective qualities such as, according to the university’s website, “interests,” “character” and “growth.”
Yet look how Harvard stacks up against schools that explicitly don’t consider ethnicity in admissions. At the California Institute of Technology, the share of Asian-American students hit 42.5% in 2013—double Harvard’s and a big jump from Caltech’s 26% in 1993. At the University of California-Berkeley it is more than 30%; the state’s voters banned the state schools from using racial preferences in a 1996 referendum. The trend is also observable at elite high schools with race-neutral admissions: New York City’s Hunter College High School was 49% Asian-American in 2013.
But the quota-like rigidity is hard to miss: On average, roughly 10% of admitted Harvard students are African-American, 12% Hispanic, 2% Native American and 19% Asian-American, numbers that have barely budged in nearly a decade.
Yet no other racial or ethnic group is as underrepresented relative to its application numbers as are Asian-Americans, citing research from UCLA law professor Richard Sander released last year.
Yet the story seems the same at other elite schools: 16% of Yale’s student body in 2013 was Asian-American, 17% at Princeton, 18% at Penn. Again, little variation from year-to-year.
2009 research by Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade found an Asian-American student must earn an SAT score 140 points higher than a white student, 270 points higher than a Hispanic and 450 points higher than an African-American, all else being equal. So if a white applicant scored 2160 on the SAT—lower than last year’s Harvard average—an Asian-American would need to hit 2300, well into the 99% percentile, to have an equal chance at getting in.
Still, there is no doubt that Asian-Americans face disadvantages. The test-preparation company Princeton Review’s book “Cracking College Admissions” devotes a section to ethnic background. Here is some of the advice for Asian-Americans: “If you’re given an option, don’t attach a photograph to your application and don’t answer the optional question about your ethnic background.” The book offers tips for avoiding “being an Asian Joe Bloggs,” a stereotypical candidate with “a very high math SAT score, a low or mediocre verbal SAT score,” or, for instance, few extracurricular activities.
Mr. Zhao runs through other stereotypes that he says are used against Asian-Americans, such as their strength in science, technology, engineering or math. “Right now we have huge gaps in STEM education, and actually in this area a lot of Asian-American kids perform really well. But when they apply to elite colleges, their strength becomes a weakness.” He notes that Albert Einstein was a quiet, violin-playing math whiz: “Einstein would not be admitted to Harvard today.” Unless the violin added to his holistic appeal.
Another stereotype is that Asian-Americans aren’t risk-takers or leaders: “A Chinese restaurant run by Chinese-Americans, or a gas station run by Indian-Americans—all need leadership, all need risk-taking,” Mr. Zhao points out. “The great number we uncovered is that, between 2006 and 2012, 42% of technology startups were founded by Asian-Americans,” he says, citing a study by the nonprofit Kauffman Foundation.
In California last year, Asian-American lawmakers beat back an attempt to reinstate racial preferences within the state’s college system.
6/1/15 Boston Globe: “To get into elite colleges, some advised to ‘appear less Asian’; As lawsuits allege racial quotas at elite colleges, high-achieving applicants call on consultants to help win admission — and receive guidance on minimizing their ethnicity”
By Bella English
Brian Taylor is director of Ivy Coach, a Manhattan company that advises families on how to get their students into elite colleges. A number of his clients are Asian American, and Taylor is frank about his strategy for them.
“While it is controversial, this is what we do,’’ he says. “We will make them appear less Asian when they apply.”
5/24/15 The Guardian: “Why are so many Asian Americans missing out on Ivy League schools?”
by Nicky Woolf
Experts say elite universities in the US are discriminating against Asian American candidates almost wholesale. This month, a coalition of 64 Asian American associations and civil rights groups, supported by students including Wang, filed a lawsuit against Harvard for what it sees as discriminatory admissions practices.
According to Daniel Golden, the author of The Price of Admission: How America’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges – and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates, SAT grades that would be perfectly adequate for a non-Asian student are colloquially called an “Asian fail”.
“The issue basically is that Asian Americans need better academic credentials than members of other groups to get into elite universities,” Golden said.
Edward Blum, president of Students for Fair Admissions, a group that fights for fairness in admissions processes and has a separate Harvard lawsuit pending, said that “at least 100” students who had been rejected from Harvard and other universities on the basis, he believed, of their race were on board with his group’s suit.
While the number of Asian American applicants to Harvard has almost tripled in the past two decades, Blum said, there were actually fewer Asian American students admitted to the university in 2012 than in 1992.
He said he had spoken to more than 700 students and parents, who “expressed their grave disappointment with Harvard and the other Ivy League schools when they see that their grades, their test scores, their athletic activities and their extracurricular activities are better and stronger than many of their classmates who are white, African American and Hispanic, who are admitted to the Ivy League schools whereas they are denied.”
He said the lawsuit was currently in discovery, and that while there was currently no “smoking gun” document showing that quotas exist, the data is clear.
Both Blum and Golden compared the situation to that faced by Jewish prospective students in the first half of the 20th century.
“Jews were overrepresented in the student body compared to the population, but they were underrepresented compared to their academic credentials,” Golden said.
“Admissions officers in those days were more candid and said pretty clearly they felt it would be harmful to have too many Jews in the student body – I don’t think it’s all that different.
“And my feeling is,” he added, “some day people will look back and say, ‘How could we have let this discrimination against Asian Americans persist for so long?’”
5/22/15 Chicago Tribune: “Harvard’s odd quota on Asian-Americans”
by Steve Chapman
Asian-Americans are one of the nation’s most astonishing success stories. In 1960, they accounted for less than 1 percent of the U.S. population but had a rich history of persecution — from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Back then, no one could have imagined what lay ahead.
Today, nearly 5 percent of Americans have Asian ancestry, tracing to countries from India to Japan. The Pew Research Center reports that they are “the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States.”
They are over-represented in fields like medicine, engineering and computer science. In Silicon Valley, they hold half of the tech jobs. For immigrants once associated with menial or subservient work, the transformation has been titanic.
But some things have stayed the same — such as the representation of Asian-Americans at Harvard, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious university. In 1992, they made up 19.1 percent of the undergraduate student body. In 2013, they made up 18 percent.
During the same period, the share of Asian-Americans in the U.S. population rose sharply, and their share in the Harvard applicant pool doubled. About 30 percent of those admitted, by comparison, are “legacies” — students whose notable virtue is carrying the DNA of Harvard grads.
Today, according to a survey by The Harvard Crimson, Asian-American freshmen had higher SAT scores than any other ethnic group. It’s not enough for them to be as good as everyone else: To get in, they have to be considerably better.
The problem seems to be that, in the absence of measures to limit their representation, there would just be too many Asian-Americans. So, from all outward appearances, Harvard has a quota to prevent that unwanted result.
Not all elite universities follow suit. At the California Institute of Technology, reported Ron Unz in The American Conservative magazine, Asian-Americans are now nearly 40 percent of the student body. Likewise at the University of California at Berkeley, where racial preferences are against state law. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the figure is 30 percent.
5/19/15 Wall Street Journal: “The New Jews of Harvard Admissions: Asian-Americans are rebelling over evidence that they are held to a much higher standard, but elite colleges deny using quotas”
By Jason L. Riley
Last year’s Supreme Court decision upholding Michigan’s ban on racial preferences in public-university admissions included a passionate dissent by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who argued that such policies benefit “racial minorities,” by which she means blacks and Hispanics. Nowhere in Justice Sotomayor’s 58-page opinion will you find any mention of how affirmative action affects Asian-Americans, the fastest-growing racial group in the country. The omission is common among defenders of campus double standards for favored minorities, and it’s starting to annoy an increasing number of Asian-Americans. This is progress.
A coalition of more than 60 Chinese, Indian, Korean and Pakistani organizations is asking the U.S. departments of Justice and Education to investigate possible racial bias in undergraduate admissions at Harvard. The complaint announced on Friday, echoing a lawsuit filed by another group in November, accuses Harvard and other elite institutions of holding Asian-Americans to far higher standards than other applicants, a practice used to limit the number of Jewish students at Ivy League schools in the first half of the 20th century.
Citing several academic studies, the complaint notes that Asians have some of the highest academic credentials but the lowest acceptance rates at the nation’s top schools, a result that the coalition attributes to “just-for-Asians admissions standards that impose unfair and illegal burdens on Asian-American college applicants.” A 2009 paper by Princeton sociologists Thomas J. Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford found that “Asian-Americans have the lowest acceptance rate for each SAT test score bracket, having to score on average approximately 140 points higher than a white student, 270 points higher than a Hispanic student and 450 points higher than a black student on the SAT to be on equal footing.”
Chunyan Li, a professor of accounting at Pace University and a coalition organizer of the administrative complaint, said: “In the past 20 years our population has doubled,” she said, but the percentage of Asians admitted to elite schools “has been capped artificially low.”
There is strong evidence that racial balance is the highest priority at schools like Harvard, and holistic admissions are used to obscure the racial bean-counting necessary to obtain the desired racial mix. At the California Institute of Technology, a selective private college that uses color-blind admissions, Asian enrollment grew steadily to 42.5% in 2013 from 29.8% two decades earlier, reflecting the nation’s growing Asian population. At Harvard, Asian enrollment consistently remained between 14.3% and 18.4%. Harvard would have us believe that this remarkable consistency in the percentages of Asian (and other racial and ethnic groups) on campus has been achieved without quotas.
In 1995 Asian freshman enrollment at the University of California, Berkeley, stood at 37%. The next year California made it illegal for state universities to consider race in admissions, and inside of a decade Berkeley’s freshman class was nearly 47% Asian. UCLA experienced a similar spike in Asian undergrads over the same period, suggesting that the California schools had been doing what Harvard allegedly is still doing.
Last year the California legislature moved to reverse the ban on race-based admissions, but Asian-American lawmakers, primarily at the urging of their Asian constituents, pushed back hard. The legislative leadership dropped the matter. Ms. Li said the episode alerted many of her fellow activists: “That opened up many people’s eyes. They saw it as going backward. These race-based admissions policies pit one group against another.”
5/15/15 Wall Street Journal: “Harvard Accused of Bias Against Asian-Americans; Complaint alleges university
sets higher bar for applicants to limit Asian enrollment”
By Douglas Belkin
A complaint Friday alleged that Harvard University discriminates against Asian-American applicants by setting a higher bar for admissions than that faced by other groups.
The complaint, filed by a coalition of 64 organizations, says the university has set quotas to keep the numbers of Asian-American students significantly lower than the quality of their applications merits. It cites third-party academic research on the SAT exam showing that Asian-Americans have to score on average about 140 points higher than white students, 270 points higher than Hispanic students and 450 points higher than African-American students to equal their chances of gaining admission to Harvard. The exam is scored on a 2400-point scale.
The complaint was filed with the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights.
Robert Iuliano, Harvard’s general counsel, said the percentage of Asian-American students admitted to the undergraduate school rose to 21% from less than 18% in the past decade.
But the group that filed the complaint said that percentage should be much higher given the increasing numbers of Asian-American students that apply.
Yukong Zhao, a 52-year-old Chinese-American author who helped organize the coalition, said there are longtime stereotypes of Asian applicants’ being “not creative enough or risk-taking enough, but that’s not true. Nearly half of the tech start-ups in the country were started by Asian-Americans. Every one is a great example of creativity, and risk-taking and leadership.”
The complaint argues that elite schools “that use race-neutral admissions” have far higher Asian-American enrollment than Harvard. At California Institute of Technology, for instance, about 40% of undergraduates are Asian-American, about twice that at Harvard.
The complaint against Harvard: http://chronicle.com/items/biz/pdf/Final%20Aisan%20Complaint%20Harvard%20Document%2020150515.pdf
5/15/15 Boston Globe: “Harvard faces bias complaint from Asian-American groups”
By Janet Lorin
A coalition of more than 60 Asian-American groups filed a federal discrimination complaint against Harvard University, claiming racial bias in undergraduate admissions.
Asian-American students with almost perfect college entrance-exam scores, top 1 percent grade-point averages, academic awards and leadership positions are more likely to be rejected than similar applicants of other races, according to their administrative complaint, filed Friday with the US Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. Harvard denies any discrimination.
Their complaint, also filed with the US Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, reflects longstanding concern among academically high-performing Asian-Americans that they are held to a higher admissions standard at elite US colleges. While they represent about 6 percent of the US population and 21 percent of students admitted to Harvard’s freshman class this fall, they say they are being subjected to the kind of quotas that kept many Jews out of the same institutions in the first half of the 20th century.
Last year, Asian-Americans had the highest mean scores of any racial group on the math and writing sections of the SAT college entrance exam, according to the College Board, the New York nonprofit that administers the exam. On the reading section, they outscore all but white students, whom they lagged only slightly on average. They also win more than their share of academic competitions, the complaint said.
The coalition cited research from a 2009 book co-authored by Thomas Espenshade, an economist and senior scholar at the office of Population Research at Princeton University.
If all other credentials are equal, Asian-Americans need to score 140 points more than whites, 270 points higher than Hispanics, and 450 points above African-Americans out of a maximum 1,600 on the math and reading SAT to have the same chance of admission to a private college, the book found.
5/14/15 Orange County Weekly: “Activists: Harvard Discriminates Against Asian-American Students in Admissions Process”
By Kristine Hoang
According to enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the percentage of Asian-Americans who enrolled at Harvard decreased by over 50 percent over the last two decades even though the Asian-American population nearly doubled between 1992 and 2011. At the same time, Asian-American enrollment at the California Institute of Technology, which is also highly selective, has grown proportionally with the Asian-American population growth.
Research by Thomas J. Espenshade, Senior Scholar and Sociology professor at Princeton University, suggests that if race wasn’t considered in university admissions, Asian applicants would be the “biggest winners.” He writes:
Asian candidates are at a disadvantage in admission compared to their white, African-American, and Hispanic counterpart. Removing this disadvantage at the same time preferences for African Americans and Hispanics are eliminated results in a significant gain in the acceptance rate for Asian students–from 17.6 percent to 23.4 percent. Asians, who comprised 29.5 percent of total applicants in 1997, would make up 31.5 percent of accepted students in the simulation, compared with an actual proportion of 23.7 percent.
4/20/15 Inside Higher Ed: “Which Groups Are Favored?”
By Scott Jaschik
Last week a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences stunned many with its conclusion that women are more likely than men to be hired for faculty positions in science, mathematics and technology. To many who are familiar with the widespread reports of bias against women in STEM, the findings just didn’t make sense.
Black and Latino Ph.D.s were more likely to be hired promptly than were white doctorate recipients. Asian doctoral recipients, in turn, were “significantly less likely” to be hired than were white doctoral recipients. The authors speculate that this reflects the relatively small number of black and Latino Ph.D. recipients in STEM and policies at many colleges and universities designed to encourage hiring of minority professors. Asian Ph.D.s do not benefit, because they “continue to be overrepresented,” the paper says, given that they make up 8.4 percent of full-time faculty members and 5.6 percent of the U.S. population.
4/5/15 National Review: “Smash the ‘Bamboo Ceiling’ of Racial Quotas”
by John Fund
A group of Asian-American students has filed suit against Harvard’s admissions policy, charging that it seeks to limit the number of Asian students much like quotas held down the number of Jewish students until the 1920s. For example, one of the students Harvard rejected, an unnamed child of Chinese immigrants, had perfect scores on three college-admission tests, graduated first in his (or her) class, led the tennis team, and raised money for National Public Radio.
Harvard officials respond that one in six of its students have an Asian background, its admissions policy was singled out for praise in a 1978 Supreme Court decision, and it rejects thousands of impressive overachievers every year.
But the group bringing the lawsuit, Students for Fair Admissions, won a powerful PR ally this week: Vijay Chokal-Ingam, an Indian American who happens to be the brother of Fox comedy star Mindy Kaling, revealed that he won acceptance to medical school by claiming to be black. Frustrated at being rejected by medical schools in part because of mediocre test scores and a 3.1 grade point average, Chokal-Ingam shaved off his slick black hair in 2001, began using his middle name, “Jojo,” and checked the “black” box on his applications. He soon won interviews at Harvard and Columbia and a spot on waiting lists at the University of Pennsylvania, Washington University, and Mt. Sinai. He eventually went to Saint Louis University Medical School but dropped out after two years. He then applied as an Asian American to UCLA’s business school and graduated with an MBA. He now works in Los Angeles as a résumé coach.
. . .
Last year, the Democratic state senate in California rammed through a ballot measure that would have ended the state’s ban on racial preferences at public universities, a ban put in place by voters in 1996. But Asian Americans mobilized against any return to racial preferences and forced the Democratic state assembly to shelve the idea.
. . .
But at the three most selective Ivy League schools, there is a clear anomaly: Asian Americans were over 27 percent of applicants to those schools between 2008 and 2012 but represented only 17–20 percent of those admitted.
Blum believes that the discrepancy represents a “bamboo ceiling” against Asian-American applicants.
2/21/15 Los Angeles Times: “For Asian Americans, a changing landscape on college admissions”
By Frank Shyong
Asian Americans are learning to deal with diversity in the changing landscape of college admissions
In a windowless classroom at an Arcadia tutoring center, parents crammed into child-sized desks and dug through their pockets and purses for pens as Ann Lee launches a PowerPoint presentation.
Her primer on college admissions begins with the basics: application deadlines, the relative virtues of the SAT versus the ACT and how many Advanced Placement tests to take.
Then she eases into a potentially incendiary topic — one that many counselors like her have learned they cannot avoid.
“Let’s talk about Asians,” she says.
Lee’s next slide shows three columns of numbers from a Princeton University study that tried to measure how race and ethnicity affect admissions by using SAT scores as a benchmark. It uses the term “bonus” to describe how many extra SAT points an applicant’s race is worth. She points to the first column.
African Americans received a “bonus” of 230 points, Lee says.
She points to the second column.
“Hispanics received a bonus of 185 points.”
The last column draws gasps.
Asian Americans, Lee says, are penalized by 50 points — in other words, they had to do that much better to win admission.
“Do Asians need higher test scores? Is it harder for Asians to get into college? The answer is yes,” Lee says.
7/21/14 The American Bazaar: “For Asian American students battling discrimination in college admissions, now something more startling: ‘race-based grading’”
By Sujeet Rajan
New York: That Asian American students are discriminated against in admissions to Ivy League universities is a well-known fact. In the last few years, several cases and probes have come up which involve an Indian American or a Chinese American student filing a complaint against Harvard, Princeton, and Yale for non-admission despite being academically perfect, but overlooked.
In fact, Harvard’s treatment of Asian-American applicants had come under the spotlight as early as 1990, when stereotyping was found to be frequent amongst evaluators, such as this comment about one Asian-American candidate: “He’s quiet and, of course, wants to be a doctor,” according to a report by Bloomberg.
From the universities’ standpoint, it is not hard to see why they choose diversity – read ‘case by case selection’ as they may like to put it – and try and get as perfect a balance as possible in classrooms, without ruffling too many feathers: Asian American students and Whites would otherwise dominate classrooms, leaving most Black and the Hispanic students to be segregated in lesser known institutions.
A new report by Kevin Binversie, the Web Editor of Right Wisconsin, now throws up another facet of a US institution, which may mark a growing trend nationwide as the country slowly slips into becoming a non-Caucasian majority, with the Hispanic population growing in numbers rapidly.
According to Binversie’s report, the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-M) may indulge in ‘race-based grading’.
The report quotes from an Op-Ed piece written by Lee Hansen, a professor emeritus of economics at UW-M, for the John William Hope Pope Center for Higher Education, a North Carolina-based think tank, about the latest “diversity” plan. “Representational equity” is being applied to levels never before seen, analyzes Binversie.
Hansen’s report calls for “proportional participation of historically underrepresented racial-ethnic groups at all levels of an institution, including high status special programs, high-demand majors, and in the distribution of grades.”
That of course, is exactly what would lead to further discrimination against deserving Asian American and White students who score well above other students in SAT and subject-wise exams, in an effort to gain admission into schools of their choice.
According to Binversie, Hansen’s report means that “professors, instead of just awarding the grade that each student earns, would apparently have to adjust them so that academically weaker, “historically underrepresented racial/ethnic” students perform at the same level and receive the same grades as academically stronger students.”
This, as Binversie rightly points out, would mean even greater expenditures on special tutoring for weaker targeted minority students.
“It is also likely to trigger a new outbreak of grade inflation, as professors find out that they can avoid trouble over “inequitable” grade distributions by giving every student a high grade.” He questions UW-M at the end of the report: “are they still an institute of higher learning, or an institute of higher diversity?”
A 2012 report by Bloomberg pointed out that studies have shown that Asian-American applicants have to outperform their counterparts from other backgrounds on the SAT to gain entry to elite universities.
That report also informed that Asian-Americans admitted to the UW-M in 2008 had a median math and reading SAT score of 1370 out of 1600, compared to 1340 for whites, 1250 for Hispanics, and 1190 for blacks, citing a 2011 study by the Center for Equal Opportunity, a Falls Church, Virginia-based nonprofit group that opposes racial preferences in college admissions.
“Clearly, both whites and Asian-Americans are discriminated against vis a vis African-Americans and Latinos,” Roger Clegg, the center’s president, was quoted as saying in that report. “At some of the more selective schools, Asians are also discriminated against vis a vis whites.”
According to “No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal,” a 2009 book co-written by Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade, Asian-Americans need to score 140 points more than whites, 270 points higher than Hispanics, and 450 points above African-Americans out of a maximum 1600 on the math and reading SAT to have the same chance of admission to a private college.
Another Bloomberg report also said that budget-strapped state schools such as the University of California at San Diego are reducing enrollment of Asian- Americans to make room for international students from China who pay almost twice the tuition of in-state residents.
7/19/14 New York Post: “To make elite schools ‘fair,’ city will punish poor Asians”
By Dennis Saffran
In 2004, 7-year-old Ting Shi arrived in New York from China, speaking almost no English. For two years, he shared a bedroom in a Chinatown apartment with his grandparents — a cook and a factory worker — and a young cousin, while his parents put in 12-hour days at a small laundromat they had purchased on the Upper East Side.
Ting mastered English and eventually set his sights on getting into Stuyvesant High School, the crown jewel of New York City’s eight “specialized high schools.”
When he was in sixth grade, he took the subway downtown from his parents’ small apartment to the bustling high school to pick up prep books for its eighth-grade entrance exam. He prepared for the test over the next two years, working through the prep books and taking classes at one of the city’s free tutoring programs. His acceptance into Stuyvesant prompted a day of celebration at the laundromat — an immigrant family’s dream beginning to come true.
Ting, now a 17-year-old senior starting at NYU in the fall, says of his parents, who never went to college: “They came here for the next generation.”
The plot against merit
New York’s specialized high schools, including Stuyvesant and the equally storied Bronx High School of Science, along with Brooklyn Technical High School and five smaller schools, have produced 14 Nobel laureates — more than most countries.
For more than 70 years, admission to these schools has been based upon a competitive examination of math, verbal and logical reasoning skills. In 1971, the state legislature, heading off city efforts to scrap the merit selection test as culturally biased against minorities, reaffirmed that admission to the schools be based on the competitive exam.
But now, troubled by declining black and Hispanic enrollment at the schools, opponents of the exam have resurfaced. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund has filed a civil-rights complaint challenging the admissions process. A bill in Albany to eliminate the test requirement has garnered the support of Sheldon Silver, the powerful Assembly speaker.
And new Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose son, Dante, attends Brooklyn Tech, has called for changing the admissions criteria. The mayor argues that relying solely on the test creates a “rich-get-richer” dynamic that benefits the wealthy, who can afford expensive test preparation.
As Ting’s story illustrates, however, the reality is just the opposite. It’s not affluent whites, but rather the city’s burgeoning population of Asian-American immigrants — a group that, despite its successes, remains disproportionately poor and working-class — whose children have aced the exam in overwhelming numbers.
7/17/14 San Jose Mercury News: “Asian-Americans and SCA-5: Here’s why many oppose it”
By Michael Wang
For high school students aiming to attend a top college, July is filled with exam prep, community service, lab work, internships, music and athletic camps. With Stanford taking only 5.1 percent of applicants and Yale just 7.1 percent, the odds are so uncertain that no effort is spared to build a competitive profile.
Applying to college is an anxiety-filled rite-of-passage for students and parents alike. For Asian-American families, however, the anxiety is mixed with dread. They know that their race will be used against them in admissions, and there is nothing they can do but over prepare.
I experienced this when I applied last year. I grew up in a Chinese-American family in Union City, where my parents are educators and encouraged me to pursue my interests broadly. I sing and play the piano. My choir performed at the San Francisco Opera and President Obama’s first inauguration.
I founded the math club at my high school, James Logan, and debated in tournaments throughout the West Coast. I took the most challenging classes in school and graduated in the top 0.5 percent of my class. I got a perfect 36 on the ACT and 2230 on the SAT. I wanted to study international relations and become an ambassador.
I was rejected by Yale, Princeton and Stanford.
My disappointment turned into anger when I learned that Asian-Americans are being held to higher admissions standards by the selective schools. We have been the fastest growing minority group in America, and yet our presence on some Ivy League campuses has declined in the last 20 years.
A 2009 study found that Asian-Americans were admitted at the lowest rate of any racial group. For Asian-American applicants to have an equal chance of getting into an elite private college, we had to score 140 points higher than whites on the SATs, 270 points higher than Latinos and 310 points higher than blacks.
Here in California, Asian-Americans constitute 19 percent of Stanford’s undergraduates compared to 39 percent at UC Berkeley and 45 percent at UC San Diego. The disparity exists because of the law. In 1996, California voters adopted Proposition 209, which banned racial preferences in public education.
In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that schools like Stanford that are not subject to Proposition 209 may give minority applicants a “race plus-factor” to boost their chances of getting in. The High Court acknowledged that the practice deviates from the equal protection of the laws but is permissible for 25 years to enhance campus diversity.
Though a majority of Asian-Americans opposed Proposition 209, many now appreciate the fairness of race-blindness. We have been driven to this understanding because the race-plus factor, which is supposed to help increase black, Latino and Native American enrollment, is being used as a minus-factor against us.
Whatever unequal treatment we may encounter elsewhere, we felt assured that the UC schools will not disadvantage us — that is, until this January, when the State Senate passed Senate Constitutional Amendment No. 5 (SCA-5).
The bill proposed to repeal Proposition 209 and allow the UC schools to use racial preferences. Our community reacted with fury at the Asian-American senators who supported SCA-5 and forced them to have the measure tabled.
The reaction surprised many but not families like mine and countless others whose grievances have been building for years.
Last June, I filed complaints against Yale, Princeton and Stanford with the U.S. Department of Education. This April, the Supreme Court upheld voter initiatives that ban racial preferences. I hope I have a chance to present my case.
Michael Wang of Union City is a sophomore at Williams College. He wrote this for this newspaper.
6/23/2014 The Bull Elephant
Is TJHSST Discriminating Against Asians?
by Jeanine Martin
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST, or TJ) is a regional magnet school in Fairfax County that consistently ranks as one of the best high schools in the country. Prior to 1997, officials overseeing the very competitive admissions process practiced affirmative action by denying admission to approximately 30 White and Asian students each year to permit admission of 30 Black students with lower scores and grades. In 1997, parents of one of the displaced students sued Fairfax County Public Schools and won. Over the summer of 1997, FCPS had to offer admission to the 32 students who would have been admitted to TJ were it not for their illegal affirmative action.
4/28/14 Stuyvesant Spectator: “Ivy Day is Asian Discrimination Day; And Whites Reap the Benefits”
by David Cahn
At 5PM on Thursday, March 27,my Facebook newsfeed exploded. It was Ivy Day and America’s top universities had released their long-awaited decisions. Within minutes, my screen sparkled with fancy college names, gleeful classmates, and hundreds of hearty congratulations to each accepted student. I joined in, ecstatic at my friends’ accomplishments, and cheering them on just as they had supported me when I received my early acceptance in December.
But soon an eerie pattern emerged in the college acceptance statuses. Whites were being accepted in disproportionate numbers compared to their Asian peers. I decided to conduct an empirical analysis to assess whether or not this observation could be statistically confirmed. I relied on data collected by The Spectator, to measure race. To determine Ivy League admittance rates, I used Stuyclodpedia, a webpage on which Stuyvesant students post their college decisions. This was the best metric available because it is almost universally used and official statistics are not yet available. The numbers tell a disturbing story.
Though 67% of students identified as East/Southeast Asian, these students represented only 48% of students admitted to the Ivy League. By contrast, the 20% of seniors who identified as Caucasian/Middle Eastern represented 32% of admitted students. East Asians were 19% under-represented, compared with a 12% over-representation of Caucasians. This difference in admission was not merit-based – The Spectator’s survey found no statistical relationship between race and GPA or extra-curricular participation. [*For in-depth discussion of statistical robustness and possible confounds, please see my note at the end of this article].
These findings are consistent with national trends. Thomas J. Espenshade, a sociologist at Princeton and the author of “No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life,” has found that, all else being equal, Asians must score 140 points high on the SAT to get into elite schools. The explicit Ivy League quota for Asian students is usually approximated at around 17%.Admissions officers routinely deny the existence of these quotas despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, though they justify race-based admission on the grounds that it allows them to create diverse classes.
Disadvantaging students on the basis of their race (rather than evaluating the content of their character, as Martin Luther King Jr. famously said) is antithetical to the basic American principle of equal opportunity. It denies Asian American students access to the same education as whites and devalues merit in favor of superficiality. Asian students are not faceless. They are the hardworking and ambitious students who I have spent the past four years going to school with – and they deserve fair treatment.
Moreover, the Asian quota does not promote diversity when would-be Asian seats are simply taken by Caucasians. Over the past 20 years, the number of Asian Americans earning Presidential Scholarships and National Merit Awards have skyrocketed, but their admission rates to Ivy League colleges has fallen. White students continue to be admitted at historic levels. If colleges can tolerate huge white populations (45% of Harvard undergraduates were white in 2011), then they should also feel comfortable with large Asian ones. The case for diversity has legitimate role to play in the affirmative action debate, but cannot justify restricting Asian admission.
The college process reeks of racism. Discrimination against Asians is used to maintain college campuses that are plurality white, not to advantage minorities. Colleges may preach the virtues of “diversity,” “equality,” and “human rights.” But they are not innocent. Their Gentleman’s Agreement is a subtle method of entrenching racial and cultural norms and it pervades every high school in America. Ivy Day should be re-named Asian Discrimination Day – a day to remember that the fight for civil rights has not yet been won and that we must continue striving for racial equality in America.
*Notes on Statistical Analysis:
5/16/13 Acton Institute: “Affirmative Action Limits Opportunities For Asian Americans”
by Anthony Bradley
One of the realities of using race to socially engineer the racial make-up of college freshman classes
by elite decision-makers, is that it does nothing but perpetuate the injustice of institutional and planned
discrimination. This is the greatest irony of affirmative action education policy. The attempt to redress
past injustices does nothing but set the stage for new forms of injustice against other groups.
Today, Asian-American high-school students are faced with the reality that, if they are high achievers,
top schools do not want too many of them. In fact, checking “Asian-American” on your college admissions
application can prove to be a real liability.
James Liu, a student at Amherst College, expresses the ongoing tensions regarding Asian-American
students in The Amherst Student, an independent student newspaper at the college, by telling us a story
about a friend:
My friend was, for lack of a better term, a statistical aberration. He possessed a bizarre talent for
shading in bubbles. On his first sitting, he clocked a perfect score of 2400 on the SAT Reasoning Test.
No one-hit wonder, by the end of junior year, he had added perfect scores of 800 on two SAT Subject
Tests and 5’s on eight AP exams to his repertoire. With a 4.0 GPA, multiple club leadership positions
and an amicable character, he was well regarded by both his teachers and peers. Needless to say,
his college expectations were high.
Then, April came. The initial blow was more of a curious surprise than an outright disappointment.
My friend was waitlisted by Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Dartmouth, his four top college choices.
Remaining optimistic, he would joke that the waitlist is even more selective than the admitted class,
after all, the odds of being waitlisted by all four schools was smaller than being admitted to any given
one. After that, however, it was a slow defeat by attrition. That year, Princeton accepted zero students
of its waitlist. Harvard accepted about only 25. Eventually, Yale and Dartmouth bid their farewells, and
in the end, he was rejected by all but one of the schools that he applied to regular decision.
Why would someone be wait-listed at Harvard with test scores like this? Honesty demands that we
all admit that if a black student had applied to Harvard with those exact same test scores, I doubt we
would be reading about her being wait-listed. Liu highlights the following data from his research:
In “The Opportunity Cost of Admission Preferences at Elite Universities”, Thomas J. Espenshade
and Chang Y Chung of Princeton Univ. state, “African-American applicants receive the equivalent of
230 extra SAT points (on a 1600-point scale), and being Hispanic is worth an additional 185 SAT
points. Other things equal, recruited athletes gain an admission bonus worth 200 points, while the
preference for legacy candidates is worth 160 points. Asian-American applicants face a loss
equivalent to 50 SAT points. In another 2009 study of more than 9,000 students who applied to
selective universities, Espenshade along with Alexandria Walton Radford found that “white students
were three times more likely to be admitted than Asians with the same academic record”.
In the end, Lui asks a provocative question,”how does preferential admissions treatment for an
applicant whose parents immigrated from Argentina in the 1990s do anymore to remedy the
vestiges of historic immigration than providing that same treatment to an applicant whose Japanese
grandfather was interned during World War II, or whose great-grandmother was prohibited from
attending an all-white high school in Mississippi (Lum v. Rice) or whose Filipino grandfather could
not marry the woman he loved because a 1953 Utah statute declared marriage between a “white and
This is a great question, and many of us are unsure how those in favor of race-based preferential
treatment in college admissions would make such a distinction. In an effort to move beyond this,
Lui concludes that affirmative action should be based on class and not race because “race is an
inadequate indicator of disenfranchisement. The best indicator that a person suffers from present
and historic discrimination is persistent poverty.” On the surface this may seem more helpful but the
underlying paternalism behind this view may not be as helpful as one might imagine. Institutional
classism is not better than institutional racism.
Unfortunately, exchanging class for race does not solve the riddle either because schools will still
discriminate against people on the basis of reported household income – this is still institutional
discrimination. Preferential treatment by class only means that high-achieving students who were
born, by no fault of their own, into higher-income families will be treated unfairly. This is not justice.
Why should high-achieving students from upper-income families be penalized because of
We must also keep in mind that families move in and out of classes over time. There is no way
to accurately determine the class of any given applicant without more discrimination. A laid-off
corporate executive could technically qualify as “lower-class” because, in America, we generally
judge class on the basis of income. I can only imagine all of the perverse incentives this would
create for families to find a way to appear poor on paper in order to increase the chances of their
children being admitted to an elite school.
It seems that what would be best for college admissions is a world without any imposed
preferential treatment on the basis of race or class. If this means, for example, that Harvard and
Yale end up being 80 percent Asian-American then it is what it is. If high-achieving students want
to attend schools that are not as competitive but have more ethnically diverse populations, those
schools would gladly welcome them. It would be a trade-off for sure, but one in which everyone is
treated equally, because using discrimination to redress discrimination does nothing but
perpetuate the injustice of discrimination.
4/24/13 Priceonomics: “Do Elite Colleges Discriminate Against Asians?”
Asian-American students face an extra source of stress: deciding whether to respond to
the application question asking for their race and ethnicity. True or not, there is a perception
that Asians are at a disadvantage in the college admissions process.
4/15/13 Time: “The Thin-Envelope Crisis”
By Fareed Zakaria
In an essay in the American Conservative, Ron Unz uses a mountain of data to charge that America’s
top colleges and universities have over the past two decades maintained a quota–an upper limit–of
about 16.5% for Asian Americans, despite their exploding applicant numbers and high achievements.
Some of Unz’s data is bad. His numbers do not account for the many Asian mixed-race students and
others who refuse to divulge their race (largely from fears that they will be rejected because of a quota).
Two Ivy League admissions officers estimated to me that Asian Americans probably make up more
than 20% of their entering classes. Even so, institutions that are highly selective but rely on more
objective measures for admission have found that their Asian-American populations have risen much
more sharply over the past two decades. Caltech and the University of California, Berkeley, are now
about 40% Asian. New York City’s Stuyvesant High School admits about 1,000 students out of the
30,000 who take a math and reading test (and thus is twice as selective as Harvard). It is now 72%
Asian American. The U.S. math and science olympiad winners are more than 70% Asian American.
In this context, for the U.S.’s top colleges and universities to be at 20% is, at the least, worth some
Test scores are only one measure of a student’s achievement, and other qualities must be taken
into account. But it’s worth keeping in mind that the arguments for such subjective criteria are precisely
those that were made in the 1930s to justify quotas for Jews. In fact, in his book The Chosen: The
Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale and Princeton, scholar Jerome Karabel
exhaustively documented how nonobjective admissions criteria such as interviews and extracurriculars
were put in place by Ivy League schools in large measure to keep Jewish admissions from rising.
4/11/13 Harvard Crimson: Phi Beta Kappa Announces ‘Junior 24’ for the Class of 2014
Reader comment: 42% on Harvard’s Phi Beta Kappa Juniors List have Asian names even though
Asians comprise less than 20% of the class. 10 of 24 are Asian, while there were 1600 students in
Harvard’s Class of 2014.
For over 10 years, Asian students are over-represented on Harvard’s Phi Beta Kappa list consistently
every year compared to their percentage (around 20%) of the Harvard College student body. This over-
representation in Phi Beta Kappa also occurs in other Ivy League and elite colleges. This is evidence
Harvard applies stricter admission criteria to Asian-American applicants than it does to other students.
2/5/13 National Review: “Racial Quotas, Harvard, and the Legacy of Bakke;
Have three decades of Supreme Court support for affirmative action been based on fraud?”
by Ron Unz
Over the years, advocacy of “a holistic admissions system” as practiced by Harvard has become a
favored mantra among diversity advocates in higher education.
But what if all these claims were simply fraudulent?
I recently published a lengthy article analyzing the admissions policies of America’s Ivy League
universities; one of my main points was that these policies coincide with a very suspicious pattern of
Over the last 20 years, America’s population of college-age Asian Americans has roughly doubled;
but during this same period, the number admitted to Harvard and most other Ivy League schools has held
steady or even declined, despite significant improvement in Asian academic performance. Furthermore,
the Asian percentages at all Ivy League schools have recently converged to a very narrow range and
remained static over time, which seems quite suspicious.
Meanwhile, the Californian Institute of Technology (Caltech) follows a highly selective but strictly race-
neutral admissions policy, and its enrollment of Asian Americans has grown almost exactly in line with
the growth of the Asian-American population.
The stark difference between these two admissions policies is evident in this graph of comparative
Top officials at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton today strenuously deny the existence of Asian-American
quotas, but their predecessors had similarly denied the existence of Jewish quotas in the 1920s, now
universally acknowledged to have existed. In fact, the large growth in the Asian-American population
means that the fraction attending Harvard has fallen by more than 50 percent since the early 1990s,
a decline considerably greater than the decline Jews experienced after the implementation of secret
quotas in 1925.
Based on these officially reported enrollment statistics, the evidence of Ivy League racial quotas
seems overwhelming to many outside observers. The liberal New York Times recently ran a forum on
the topic, and a large majority of its commentators were scathing in their criticism of the Harvard
public-relations officer who defended his university’s position.
S. B. Woo, founding president of 80-20, a national Asian-American advocacy organization that
strongly supported President Obama’s reelection, participated in the New York Times forum, entitling
his contribution “Discrimination Is Obvious.” He argued that “the credibility of elite colleges suffers when they deny the clear evidence that they set a quota for Asian students, and he claimed that
“America’s core value of equal opportunity is being trampled.” Liberal and left-wing pundits from
publications such as The Atlantic and The Washington Monthly have similarly ridiculed Harvard’s
blatant dishonesty in the matter.
– Ron Unz, a theoretical physicist by training, serves as publisher of The American Conservative.
For full story, see
1/10/13 Center for Equal Opportunity: Preferences at the Service Academies
Racial, Ethnic and Gender Preferences in Admissions to the U.S. Military Academy and
the U.S. Naval Academy
By Robert Lerner, Ph.D and Althea K. Nagai, Ph.D
There is no evidence that Asian applicants receive special preference at either the U.S. Military
Academy or the U.S. Naval Academy. In fact, there is evidence that the Asian applicants with the
same academic qualifications find it somewhat more difficult to obtain admission than do their
white counterparts at both academies.
The four-year graduation rates of white and Asian students are higher than those of blacks and
Hispanics at both academies. This is consistent with the existence of racial and ethnic preferences
and similar to gaps which we have found elsewhere, indicating that preferences have a negative
impact on graduation rates.
For full report, see http://www.acri.org/blog/wp-content/ceousa-service-adademies.pdf
12/22/12 Washington Monthly: “Discrimination against Asian American students in Ivy League admissions”
By Kathleen Geier
The New York Times has been having an interesting debate about the issue of anti-Asian quotas in
the Ivy League. There was this op-ed earlier in the week, as well as a series of essays arguing various
sides of the question as part of the Times’ “Room for Debate” feature.
Participants mostly debated whether quotas limiting Asian students in the Ivies really exist. But of that
there can be little doubt. While the Harvard guy in the “Room for Debate” forum predictably swears up
and down that their admissions committee “does not use quotas of any kind,” that appears to be almost
For full story, see http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2012_12/discrimination_against_asian_a041954.php#
12/21/12 The Atlantic: “Is the Ivy League Fair to Asian Americans? An admission officer’s uncomfortable
explanation for why they don’t get in as often as their test scores would predict suggests it’s not.”
By Conor Friedersdorf
Are Ivy League institutions discriminating against Asian Americans by limiting how many are admitted?
That’s the subject of a debate published this week in the New York Times. Let’s start with the folks who
believe that there’s effectively a race-based quota limiting Asian Americans.
Ron Unz makes the most powerful argument for that proposition. “After the Justice Department closed
an investigation in the early 1990s into charges that Harvard University discriminated against Asian-
American applicants, Harvard’s reported enrollment of Asian-Americans began gradually declining,
falling from 20.6 percent in 1993 to about 16.5 percent over most of the last decade,” he writes.
“This decline might seem small. But these same years brought a huge increase in America’s college-age
Asian population, which roughly doubled between 1992 and 2011, while non-Hispanic white numbers
remained almost unchanged. Thus, according to official statistics, the percentage of Asian-Americans
enrolled at Harvard fell by more than 50 percent over the last two decades, while the percentage of whites
changed little. This decline in relative Asian-American enrollment was actually larger than the impact of
Harvard’s 1925 Jewish quota, which reduced Jewish freshmen from 27.6 percent to 15 percent.”
For full story, see http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/12/is-the-ivy-league-fair-to-asian-americans/266538/
12/20/12 New York Times: “Statistics Indicate an Ivy League Asian Quota,”
Ron Unz is a software developer and publisher of The American Conservative, where he elaborated
on these thoughts in a recent article . He is a graduate of Harvard University.
Just as their predecessors of the 1920s always denied the existence of “Jewish quotas,” top officials
at Harvard, Yale, Princeton and the other Ivy League schools today strongly deny the existence of “Asian quotas.” But there exists powerful statistical evidence to the contrary.
Each year, American universities provide their racial enrollment data to the National Center for
Education Statistics, which makes this information available online. After the Justice Department
closed an investigation in the early 1990s into charges that Harvard University discriminated against
Asian-American applicants, Harvard’s reported enrollment of Asian-Americans began gradually
declining, falling from 20.6 percent in 1993 to about 16.5 percent over most of the last decade.
This decline might seem small. But these same years brought a huge increase in America’s
college-age Asian population, which roughly doubled between 1992 and 2011, while non-Hispanic
white numbers remained almost unchanged. Thus, according to official statistics, the percentage of
Asian-Americans enrolled at Harvard fell by more than 50 percent over the last two decades, while
the percentage of whites changed little. This decline in relative Asian-American enrollment was
actually larger than the impact of Harvard’s 1925 Jewish quota, which reduced Jewish freshmen
from 27.6 percent to 15 percent.
The percentages of college-age Asian-Americans enrolled at most of the other Ivy League schools
also fell during this same period, and over the last few years Asian enrollments across these different
universities have converged to a very similar level and remained static over time. This raises
suspicions of a joint Ivy League policy to restrict Asian-American numbers to a particular percentage.
Meanwhile, the California Institute of Technology follows a highly selective but strictly race-neutral
admissions policy, and its enrollment of Asian-Americans has grown almost exactly in line with the
growth of the Asian-American population.
12/19/12 New York Times: “Asians: Too Smart for Their Own Good?”
By Carolyn Chen
AT the end of this month, high school seniors will submit their college applications and begin waiting
to hear where they will spend the next four years of their lives. More than they might realize, the outcome
will depend on race. If you are Asian, your chances of getting into the most selective colleges and
universities will almost certainly be lower than if you are white.
Asian-Americans constitute 5.6 percent of the nation’s population but 12 to 18 percent of the student
body at Ivy League schools. But if judged on their merits – grades, test scores, academic honors and
extracurricular activities – Asian-Americans are underrepresented at these schools. Consider that
Asians make up anywhere from 40 to 70 percent of the student population at top public high schools
like Stuyvesant and Bronx Science in New York City, Lowell in San Francisco and Thomas Jefferson
in Alexandria, Va., where admissions are largely based on exams and grades.
In a 2009 study of more than 9,000 students who applied to selective universities, the sociologists
Thomas J. Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford found that white students were three times
more likely to be admitted than Asians with the same academic record.
Sound familiar? In the 1920s, as high-achieving Jews began to compete with WASP prep schoolers,
Ivy League schools started asking about family background and sought vague qualities like “character,”
“vigor,” “manliness” and “leadership” to cap Jewish enrollment. These unofficial Jewish quotas weren’t
lifted until the early 1960s, as the sociologist Jerome Karabel found in his 2005 history of admissions
practices at Harvard, Yale and Princeton.
In the 1920s, people asked: will Harvard still be Harvard with so many Jews? Today we ask: will
Harvard still be Harvard with so many Asians? Yale’s student population is 58 percent white and
18 percent Asian. Would it be such a calamity if those numbers were reversed?
As the journalist Daniel Golden revealed in his 2006 book “The Price of Admission,” far more
attention has been devoted to race-conscious affirmative action at public universities (which the
Supreme Court has scaled back and might soon eliminate altogether) than to the special preferences
elite universities afford to the children of (overwhelmingly white) donors and alumni.
The way we treat these children will influence the America we become. If our most renowned
schools set implicit quotas for high-achieving Asian-Americans, we are sending a message to all
students that hard work and good grades may be a fool’s errand.
Carolyn Chen is an associate professor of sociology and director of the Asian American
Studies Program at Northwestern.
For full story, see http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/20/opinion/asians-too-smart-for-their-own-good.html?_r=0
11/29/12 National Review: “Why Aren’t Asians Republicans?”
By John Yoo
These characteristics should attract both groups to the Republican party. I think the reason Jews and
Asians, however, vote against their interests may be because both groups have been concentrated in cities.
One of the big demographic differences in the election, of course, was how the cities went for Obama, while
the rural areas and many of the suburbs went for Romney. Perhaps it is not just ethnicity, or class, although
these no doubt have something to do with it. It may be because Asians, like Jews when they first emigrated,
have congregated in cities, which are run by Democratic-party machines who may demand a certain level of
“loyalty,” shall we say, to compete for city business or to deal with city licenses. To the extent Asians then
seek to leave the cities through education and entering the professions, they move into other areas
controlled by the Left.
For full story, see http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/334436/why-arent-asians-republicans-john-yoo#
11/28/12 The American Conservative: “The Myth of American Meritocracy:
How corrupt are Ivy League admissions?”
By Ron Unz
There certainly does seem considerable anecdotal evidence that many Asians perceive their chances of
elite admission as being drastically reduced by their racial origins.17 For example, our national newspapers
have revealed that students of part-Asian background have regularly attempted to conceal the non-white
side of their ancestry when applying to Harvard and other elite universities out of concern it would greatly
reduce their chances of admission.18 Indeed, widespread perceptions of racial discrimination are almost
certainly the primary factor behind the huge growth in the number of students refusing to reveal their racial
background at top universities, with the percentage of Harvard students classified as “race unknown”
having risen from almost nothing to a regular 5 – 15 percent of all undergraduates over the last twenty years,
with similar levels reached at other elite schools.
Such fears that checking the “Asian” box on an admissions application may lead to rejection are hardly
unreasonable, given that studies have documented a large gap between the average test scores of whites
and Asians successfully admitted to elite universities. Princeton sociologist Thomas J. Espenshade and
his colleagues have demonstrated that among undergraduates at highly selective schools such as the Ivy
League, white students have mean scores 310 points higher on the 1600 SAT scale than their black
classmates, but Asian students average 140 points above whites.19 The former gap is an automatic
consequence of officially acknowledged affirmative action policies, while the latter appears somewhat
For full story, see http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-myth-of-american-meritocracy/
10/30/12 New York Observer: “The New Jews?”
By The Editors
The strong Asian-American presence at New York’s elite public high schools has been years in the
making. Now, however, comes the backlash: parents are complaining, in essence, that schools like
Stuyvesant and Bronx Science are, you know, too Asian.
10/15/12 City Watch Los Angeles: “Supremes Affirmative-Action Debate Spotlights UC’s Shabby History,”
by Chris Reed
The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in Fisher v. the University of Texas, the latest
big affirmative-action case to reach SCOTUS. Conservative justices used their questions to establish how
intentionally slippery and vague UT officials are in explaining how race is included as a factor in deciding
admissions to their first-rate public university.
To students of California politics and academia, what should be especially interesting is how the justices
deal with the claim that fuzzy, “holistic” judgments that lead to less-qualified minority students being admitted
over much more-qualified white or Asian students are somehow less objectionable than hard quotas.
In California, this “holistic” approach to college admissions was long ago revealed as an explicit attempt
to game Proposition 209, the 1996 state law which bans racial quotas in state government.
And which journalistic outlet made this point best? The New York Times! Economics columnist David
Leonhardt wrote a long piece in the Sunday magazine on Sept. 30, 2007, explaining how the UC system,
especially UCLA, used fuzzy talk to advance a clearly racial agenda – one with far more benefits for
the kids of affluent blacks and Hispanics than poor Asians (or poor whites).
Here was my take then:
“One of the aspects of the University of California system/affirmative action debate that consistently gets
short shrift in media coverage is that in the old quota system, African-American and Latino students with
less impressive scholastic records weren’t bumping white students, they were bumping Asian-American
students. So Asian-Americans paid the biggest price for a policy that has as its central rationale the need
to remedy the dominant white culture’s historic discrimination against minorities. Huh?
Leonhardt mentioned the following pretty much in passing:
“Even as the number of low-income black freshmen [at UCLA] soared this year, the overall number of
low-income freshmen fell somewhat. The rise in low-income black students was accompanied by a fall in
low-income Asian students – not a decline in well-off students. So under the old quota system, Asian-
American students in general paid the price for society’s attempts to atone for white racism. Now under
the new surreptitious affirmative-action program, poor Asian-American students are paying the highest
price. If this is social justice, count me out.”
This crucial detail in how affirmative action, disguised or otherwise, works was a focus of Justice Alito
in Wednesday’s questioning:
“JUSTICE ALITO: Well, I thought that the whole purpose of affirmative action was to help students who
come from underprivileged backgrounds, but you make a very different argument that I don’t think I’ve
ever seen before. The top 10 percent plan admits lots of African Americans, lots of Hispanics and a
fair number of African Americans.
But you say, well, it’s – it’s faulty, because it doesn’t admit enough African Americans and Hispanics
who come from privileged backgrounds. And you specifically have the example of the child of successful
professionals in Dallas. Now, that’s your argument?
If you have – you have an applicant whose parents are – let’s say they’re – one of them is a partner
in your law firm in Texas, another one is a part – is another corporate lawyer. They have income that
puts them in the top 1 percent of earners in the country, and they have – parents both have graduate
degrees. They deserve a leg-up against, let’s say, an Asian or a white applicant whose parents are
absolutely average in terms of education and income?”
By a quarter-century ago, it was apparent that innocent Asian-Americans were the victims of affirmative
action in UC admissions, not historically oppressive whites. This is from a September 1987 Los Angeles
“There may be a parallel between what is happening to Asian-Americans now and what happened to
Jews in the 1920s and 1930s at some Ivy League schools. And, like Jews before them, the members
of the new model minority contend that they have begun to bump up against artificial barriers to their
Casual inspection of the Berkeley campus makes any suggestion of anti-Asian bias seem
implausible. Asians represent 6.7% of California’s population, but they account for 25.5% of the Berkeley
But the percentage of Asians in the student body might be even higher, the critics contend, if
admissions were still based strictly on merit. Since the mid-1970s, both Americans of Asian descent
and immigrants from Asia have so outperformed Caucasian, black and Latino students in high schools
that universities have manipulated admissions criteria to hold back the Asian influx, say the critics.
“As soon as the percentages of Asian students began reaching double digits at some universities,
suddenly a red light went on,” said Ling-Chi Wang, a peppery Chinese-born professor of ethnic studies
at Berkeley and one of the university’s severest critics. “Since then, Asian-American admissions rates
have either stabilized or declined; university officials see the prevalence of Asians as a problem.”
For the complete article, see http://www.citywatchla.com/component/content/article/317-8box-right/3922-supremes-affirmative-action-debate-spotlights-ucs-shabby-history
10/12/12 Inside Higher Ed: “Think Outside ‘The Box'”
By Kevin Kiley
“Don’t check the box.”
It’s the advice that’s given to Asian-American students by friends, family members, guidance counselors,
even teachers, in the college application process. “The box” in question (actually more of a circle these days)
refers to the selection of “Asian” when college applications ask students how they identify themselves.
7/17/12 press release from Civil Rights Project UCLA: “Bans on Affirmative Action Reduces Discrimination
Against Asian Americans”
(original title: “Bans on Affirmative Action Shown to Reduce Enrollment of Graduate Students of Color
at Universities in CA, FL, TX, WA”)
[Re-written to remove Bigot for the Left bias against Asian Americans]
Los Angeles–A new study published today by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA examines the impact of
affirmative action bans, across a number of years in several states, on the enrollment of underrepresented
students of color. These latest data show that the bans have led to marked declines in discrimination
against Asian Americans in graduate studies.
The new report examined years of data on affirmative action bans in four states — Texas, California,
Washington, and Florida. The results show the bans have reduced by 12 percent the average discrimination
against Asian Americans in graduate programs overall. The proportion of graduate students of color
(African American, Latino and Native American) has decreased 12% across all graduate programs.
In engineering, the bans have led to a 26-percent reduction in the mean proportion of all graduate students
of color; a 19-percent decline in the natural sciences; a 15.7-percent drop in the social sciences, and 11.8
percent drop in the humanities.
Laws in seven states (Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire and Washington)
now prohibit public postsecondary institutions from considering race or ethnicity in any way in admissions.
Prior studies showed that affirmative action bans have contributed to less discrimination against Asian
Americans at selective undergraduate institutions and schools of law. This new study shows that the bans
have also led to less discrimination against Asian Americans in other graduate programs, with the largest
declines in science-related fields of study.
7/18/12 Inside Higher Ed: “Grad Student Diversity at Risk?”
by Scott Jaschik
Graduate professional enrollments of black, Latino and Native American students could drop
significantly if the Supreme Court bars colleges from considering race in admissions, warns a new
report. The fall could be particularly significant in engineering, where these enrollments are notably
The study examined minority graduate enrollments in four states — California, Florida, Texas (where
the ban has since been lifted) and Washington State — that have had bans on the consideration of race
in admissions decisions during the years since those bans were adopted. Across graduate programs,
the enrollment of underrepresented minority groups has fallen 12 percent under the bans, with the share
of these students among graduate student bodies falling from 9.9 percent to 8.7 percent. The following
table shows shifts by field of study.
Minority Share of Graduate Enrollments in 4 States, Before and After Bans on Consideration of Race
Field % of Minority Graduate Enrollments Before Ban % After Ban Drop Since Ban
Engineering 6.2% 4.6% -26%
Natural sciences 7.8% 6.3% -19%
Social sciences 12.1% 10.2.% -16%
Humanities 10.2% 9.0% -12%
For complete article: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/07/18/new-study-explores-impact-affirmative-action-bans-graduate-enrollments
6/11/12 The Weekly Standard: “The New Jews: They’re Asian Americans,”
by Ethan Epstein
Since 2008, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has been investigating whether
Princeton “discriminates against Asians, on the basis of race or national origin, in its admissions process”
– that is, whether students of Asian descent are being penalized for their background when applying to the
In August 2011, an Indian-American student filed a complaint with the Department of Education against
Harvard alleging anti-Asian discrimination in its admissions department. (The student ultimately withdrew
the complaint in February 2012.)
Michele Hernandez, author of A Is for Admissions and former admissions staffer at Dartmouth, recently
said that “after 10 years of [counseling] and 4 years in Dartmouth admissions, I don’t think it’s intentional,
but I think there is discrimination. If you look at the numbers, you can basically see that [if you are applying
to many selective colleges] you have to have higher-than-average scores if you are an Asian.”
A Center for Equal Opportunity study, cited on the Manhattan Institute’s website in the wake of the Harvard
complaint, found that Asian applicants to the University of Michigan in 2005 had a median SAT score that
was “50 points higher than the median score of white students who were accepted, 140 points higher than
that of Hispanics and 240 points higher than that of blacks.” The center also found that “among applicants
with a 1240 SAT score and 3.2 grade point average in 2005, the university admitted 10 percent of Asian
Americans, 14 percent of whites, 88 percent of Hispanics and 92 percent of blacks.”
After the state of California abolished racial preferences, the percentage of Asian Americans accepted
at Berkeley increased from 34.6 percent in 1997, the last year of legal affirmative action, to 42 percent
entering in fall 2006, clear evidence that the group had been unfairly penalized under the previous regime.
In 2009, Thomas Espenshade, a Princeton professor of sociology, co-authored a report that revealed
students of Asian descent did indeed face discrimination at colleges and universities beyond the Ivy League.
According to Espenshade’s analysis, an Asian student needs to score 140 points higher than whites on the
math and reading portions of the SAT, 270 points higher than Hispanics, and 450 points higher than blacks
to have the same chances of admission at the nation’s top schools. “[A]ll other things equal,” Espenshade
told Inside Higher Ed, “Asian-American students are at a disadvantage relative to white students, and at
an even bigger disadvantage relative to black and Latino students.”
The Associated Press reported late last year that increasing numbers of Asian applicants are neglecting
to identify themselves as such – students of mixed descent, for example, fail to mention their Asian heritage
at all, checking the box for “Caucasian” and leaving “Asian” blank.
For complete article, see http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/new-jews_646422.html
Asian American Legal Foundation amicus brief in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin
80-20 Educational Foundation amicus brief in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin
5/30/12: 80-20 Educational Foundation conducted a nation-wide survey of Asian Americans regarding
college admission policies. The 47,000+ participants selected a “race-neutral” policy by a ratio of 52 to 1.
http://www.80-20educationalfoundation.org/projects/colleges.asp to see the survey itself, its methodology,
and the 50,000+ survey takers’ names, cities and states.
4/4/12 Philadelphia Inquirer: “Colleges resist Asian Americans’ success,”
By Jonathan Zimmerman
In 1966, the American Jewish Committee reported that less than 1 percent of American college and
university presidents were Jewish. Since the end of World War II, about 1,000 presidencies had been
filled, and only one – that’s right, one – went to a Jew.
It wasn’t for want of good candidates. Most institutions had removed long-standing quotas on Jews,
who made up 10 to 12 percent of American college students and faculty. But when it came to choosing
leaders, the committee concluded, “bias is at work.”
It still is. Today, however, it has a different target: Asian Americans. Like Jews in the 1960s, they hold
just 1 percent of higher-education presidencies. Dartmouth’s Jim Yong Kim is the only Asian American
who has ever led an Ivy League institution. And President Obama recently nominated him to head the
But Asian Americans also continue to face a form of discrimination in university admissions. And until
we change that, we probably won’t get more Asian American college leaders, either.
According to Princeton sociologist Thomas J. Espenshade, Asian Americans have to score about
140 points higher than whites on the SAT, all other things being equal, to get into elite colleges. Everyone
knows that blacks and Hispanics get a leg up in the admissions sweepstakes. But how many realize that
whites enjoy affirmative action when they go head-to-head with Asians?
That just doesn’t make any sense. African Americans and Hispanics have suffered discrimination
across our history; whites haven’t. But if we make whites compete on a level playing field with Asians,
some argue, our colleges and universities will become, well, too Asian.
That’s exactly what American university leaders said about Jews in the early 20th century, when elite
institutions decided to limit Jewish admissions. But first they had to figure out who was Jewish. So
Harvard asked applicants to provide their mother’s maiden names. It even inquired, “What change,
if any, has been made since birth in your own name or that of your father?” And most colleges started
to require the submission of photographs, which would allegedly reveal what a Dartmouth official called
The student quotas started to be lifted in the late 1950s and early ’60s, as did similar limits on Jewish
faculty. Restrictions against Jewish college presidents lasted a little longer, as the 1966 report confirmed.
But the following year, the University of Chicago appointed Edward H. Levi, the son of a rabbi, as its
president. By 1971, Penn and Dartmouth both had Jewish presidents. Today, all but one of the eight Ivy
League schools has been led by a Jew.
Meanwhile, other underrepresented groups have also gained entry into the halls of university power.
By 2009, 5.9 percent of university presidents were African American and 4.6 percent were Hispanic.
But you can still count the number of Asian American presidents of four-year colleges on two hands.
Here in the Delaware Valley, Ursinus’ Bobby Fong is the only one.
You can’t explain that without thinking about admissions. Almost every elite institution is trying to recruit
more blacks and Hispanics, so hiring a president from one of those groups makes sense. But an Asian
American president might stamp the institution as “too” Asian, which is what universities are trying to avoid.
We need to ask why. After California forbade state universities from considering race in admissions,
the Asian American share of the student body at the University of California, Berkeley, jumped from
20 percent to 40 percent. At the California Institute of Technology, which doesn’t consider race either,
about a third of the students are now Asian.
Both institutions have benefited from an infusion of talented students, many of whom would not get
into other elite universities simply because of their race. The people who lose out are less-qualified
whites, who would fare better in a system that limits Asian admissions.
And maybe that’s the real story here: Beneath all the rhetoric, we’re simply afraid of a minority that
has done too well. That’s why Jews were so threatening for so many years, and why Asians are now.
Shame on us for making the same mistake twice.
Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history at New York University and lives in Narberth. He is the author
of “Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory” (Yale University Press).
2/5/12 MindingtheCampus.com: “Let’s Be Frank about Anti-Asian Admission Policies,”
By John S. Rosenberg
On February 2 Daniel Golden, former Wall Street Journal reporter and author of a highly regarded
book on college admissions, reported in Bloomberg’s Business Week that Harvard and Princeton are
being investigated by the Dept. of Education’s Office for Civil Rights for discrimination against Asians.
It’s not the first time. In fact, for the past decade or so there has been a rising tide of accusations that
the Ivies and other selective institutions treat Asians as the “new Jews” (referring to quotas on Jews in
the Ivies and elsewhere early in the 20th Century, and often beyond), holding them to much higher
admission standards than applicants from other groups in order to prevent their “over representation”
and thus make room for the “under-represented” blacks and Hispanics admitted under much lower
affirmative action standards.
2/3/12 San Francisco Chronicle: “What Harvard Owes Its Top Asian-American Applicants”
by Stephen Hsu
Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) — It’s a common belief among Asian- American families that their children are held
to higher academic standards than college applicants from other ethnic groups. Such practices were openly
acknowledged after investigations at universities like Berkeley and Stanford in the 1980s and 1990s.
Have they been corrected?
2/3/12 Inside Higher Ed: “Is It Bias? Is It Legal?”
By Scott Jaschik
One applicant who came to Michele Hernandez this fall for help getting into college had two academic
passions – science and Latin – and great grades, too. With report after report calling on colleges to attract
more talent to STEM fields, and jobs going unfilled for lack of science and technology expertise, perhaps
play up the science? Not for this applicant. Hernandez, the author of A Is for Admission and the founder of a
high-end private counseling service, said she steered the applicant in the other direction. He is an Asian
“I told him Latin was way better to stress, and that helped him a ton,” she said. (He is already in to his first
choice institution.) If, as an Asian American, you apply, “as another biology major, as another pre-med, you
are doomed,” Hernandez said.
2/3/12 Philadelphia Inquirer: “Ursinus’ Fong a rare Asian American college president,”
By Jeff Gammage
Ursinus College made a highly unusual move when it named Bobby Fong its president last year.
Not because of his qualifications – he’s brilliant, educated at Harvard, editor of a volume of poetry, a world
authority on Oscar Wilde.
It was unusual because Fong is Chinese American. And in the United States, Asians rarely get to be
2/2/12 Bloomberg Business Week: “Harvard Targeted in U.S. Asian-American Discrimination Probe,”
By Daniel Golden
(Bloomberg) — The U.S. Education Department is probing complaints that Harvard University and
Princeton University discriminate against Asian-Americans in undergraduate admissions.
The departmentï¿½s Office for Civil Rights is investigating a complaint it received in August that
Harvard rejected an Asian- American candidate for the current freshman class based on race or
national origin, a department spokesman said. The agency is looking into a similar August 2011
allegation against Princeton as part of a review begun in 2008 of that school’s handling of Asian-
American candidates, said the spokesman, who declined to be identified, citing department policy.
Both complaints involve the same applicant, who was among the top students in his California high
school class and whose family originally came from India, according to the applicant’s father, who
declined to be identified.
The new complaints, along with a case appealed last September to the U.S. Supreme Court
challenging preferences for blacks and Hispanics in college admissions, may stir up the longstanding
debate about whether elite universities discriminate against Asian-Americans, the nation’s fastest-
growing and most affluent racial category.
Like Jews in the first half of the 20th century, who faced quotas at Harvard, Princeton, and other Ivy
League schools, Asian-Americans are over-represented at top universities relative to their population,
yet must meet a higher standard than other applicants based on measures such as test scores and
high school grades, according to several academic studies.
Asian-Americans comprised 16 percent of Harvard undergraduates in the 2010-2011 academic
year, down from 18 percent in 2005-2006, according to the university’s website.
The proportion of Asian-Americans among Princeton undergraduates increased to 17.7% this year
from 14.1% in 2007- 2008.
A Chinese-American student, Jian Li, filed a complaint against Princeton with the Education
Department in 2006, alleging discrimination on the basis of race or national origin. Li, who scored the
maximum 2400 on the SAT and 2390 — 10 points below the ceiling — on subject tests in physics,
chemistry and calculus, was denied admission by Princeton, Harvard, Stanford University, and the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In 2008, the Office for Civil Rights broadened its examination of Li’s complaint into a compliance
review of whether Princeton discriminates against Asian-Americans.
Because the 2011 complaint against Princeton “raised substantially identical issues,” the agency is
folding it into the compliance review, the Education Department spokesman said. Li enrolled at Yale
University and later transferred to Harvard, graduating in 2010. He declined to comment, citing
concerns about a backlash.
The Education Department received a complaint in September that Yale, in New Haven,
Connecticut, rejected an Asian-American applicant on the basis of race, the department spokesman
said. The complainant later withdrew the allegation. It also involved the Indian-American student from
California, his father said.
Asian-Americans make up 15 percent of Yale undergraduates.
Asian-American applicants have to outperform their counterparts from other backgrounds on the
SAT to gain entry to elite universities, recent studies show.
Asian-Americans admitted to the University of Wisconsin’s flagship Madison campus in 2008 had
a median math and reading SAT score of 1370 out of 1600, compared to 1340 for whites, 1250 for
Hispanics, and 1190 for blacks, according to a 2011 study by the Center for Equal Opportunity, a
Falls Church, Virginia-based nonprofit group that opposes racial preferences in college admissions.
Asian-American students who enrolled at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina in 2001 and
2002 scored 1457 out of 1600 on the math and reading portion of the SAT, compared to 1416 for
whites, 1347 for Hispanics and 1275 for blacks, according to a 2011 study co-authored by Duke
economist Peter Arcidiacono.
If all other credentials are equal, Asian-Americans need to score 140 points more than whites,
270 points higher than Hispanics, and 450 points above African-Americans out of a maximum 1600
on the math and reading SAT to have the same chance of admission to a private college, according
to “No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal,” a 2009 book co-written by Princeton sociologist Thomas
Budget-strapped state schools such as the University of California at San Diego are reducing
enrollment of Asian-Americans to make room for international students from China and elsewhere
who pay almost twice the tuition of in-state residents, Bloomberg News reported Dec. 28.
Asian-American organizations are weighing in on both sides of a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of
Abigail Noel Fisher, a white student who was rejected in 2008 by the University of Texas at Austin.
Fisher v. Texas marks the first federal court challenge to affirmative action in college admissions filed
since a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger case, which upheld the use
of race by the University of Michigan law school to achieve a “critical mass” of under- represented
minority groups such as blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans.
University of Texas
The University of Texas automatically admits in-state applicants in the top 10 percent of their high
school classes, who make up most of its students. It then considers race in selecting the remainder
of its freshman class.
The suit contends that the top 10 percent program is enough to ensure campuswide diversity.
The university responds that, without taking race into account, many individual courses would have
hardly any black or Hispanic students.
After federal district and appeals courts upheld the university’s position, the U.S. Supreme Court
is considering whether to hear the Fisher case. The Justice Department supports the university.
“Asian-American students suffer discrimination at the hands of the University of Texas at Austin,”
the Asian-American Legal Foundation said in a friend-of-the-court brief for the plaintiff.
While the university justifies its preference for Hispanic applicants as an effort to diversify
classrooms, it has more Hispanic students than Asian-Americans, the San Francisco- based
There are 14.7 million Americans of Asian descent only, plus 2.6 million who are multiracial
including Asian, according to the 2010 U.S. census. The combined 17.3 million comprises 5.6
percent of the population, up 46 percent from 2000. Median household income for single-race
Asian-Americans exceeds $65,000, compared with a national average of $50,000. Half of those
25 and older hold college degrees, almost double the national average.
The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights first examined Harvard’s handling of Asian-
American applicants more than 20 years ago. It turned up stereotyping by Harvard evaluators, such
as this comment about one Asian-American candidate: “He’s quiet and, of course, wants to be
It also documented that Harvard admitted Asian-Americans at a lower rate than white applicants
even though the Asian- Americans had slightly stronger SAT scores and grades.
Nevertheless, the agency concluded in 1990 that Harvard didn’t violate civil rights laws because
preferences for alumni children and recruited athletes, rather than racial discrimination, accounted
for the gap.
For full story, see: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-02-02/harvard-targeted-in-u-s-asian-american-discrimination-probe.html
2/2/12 biggovernment.com: “Did Top Liberal Arts College Falsify SAT Data to Legitimize Racial
by Charles C. Johnson
Claremont McKenna College, a private liberal arts college in Los Angeles, has earned international
infamy for fraudulently misreporting its SAT scores to game the U.S. News & World Report rankings.
Richard Vos, dean of admissions since 1987, resigned in disgrace Monday, starting a nationwide debate
about the role of SATs in higher education and the integrity of Claremont’s admission process. But absent
from any analysis is this: Vos began falsifying SAT scores in 2005, right around the time Claremont began
to institutionalize racial preferences. An investigation of the data since released suggests that Claremont
manipulated the schools scores to cover up admittance of under-qualified minority students.
12/16/11 New York Post: “Hiding their race,”
By Rich Lowry
To check or not to check the Asian box? That’s the choice faced by Asian-American students applying to what are supposed to be the most tolerant places on Earth: the nation’s colleges.
12/3/11 Associated Press: “Some Asians’ college strategy: Don’t check ‘Asian'”
by Jesse Washington
Lanya Olmstead was born in Florida to a mother who immigrated from Taiwan and an American
father of Norwegian ancestry. Ethnically, she considers herself half Taiwanese and half Norwegian.
But when applying to Harvard, Olmstead checked only one box for her race: white.
“I didn’t want to put ‘Asian’ down,” Olmstead says, “because my mom told me there’s
discrimination against Asians in the application process.”
11/14/11 The Cornell Daily Sun: “No Asians Need Apply,”
By Judah Bellin
My father likes to tell a story about my grandfather, a former professor at Columbia’s school of public
health. At a meeting with colleagues in the faculty club at Cornell Hospital, he noticed the presence of
Jews, Italians and other ethnic groups at the table, and recalled the ugly history of ethnic discrimination
in college and medical school admissions. “Years ago they wouldn’t admit us into this school,” he
remarked. “Now look where we are.”
When will Asians have this moment?
It’s hard to deny that the admissions process is stacked against Asian students. A study on affirmative
action by Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade showed that when numerous factors are controlled for,
Hispanic students receive a admissions boost equivalent to around 130 points on the SAT, while black
students receive a boost of 310 points. Asian students, however, face a 140 point penalty. It was therefore
no surprise when, after California outlawed the use of racial preferences in admissions, the representation
of Asian Americans jumped significantly at University of California schools.
We can’t really gauge Cornell’s role in penalizing Asian applicants, mostly because the admissions
office is always hesitant to reveal information about minority students. However, we must pay careful
attention to our treatment of Asian students. I do know of one former admissions officer who likes to boast
about rejecting scores of Asians because he didn’t want them in his classes. Given the faculty
condescension towards Asian students that I and many others have observed, it wouldn’t surprise me if
more admissions officers acted on similar impulses.
True, any information on this phenomenon is anecdotal. However, this will also be true years from now.
We won’t uncover evidence of rigid quota systems, or committees tasked with addressing “the Jewish
question,” a la Harvard and Yale in the early 20th century. I suspect, though, that future interviews with
former admissions officers will reveal that “the Asian question: what to do about massive numbers of
qualified Asian applicants?” has been both a persistent worry and a major factor in admissions
Such subtle discrimination would be consistent with Cornell’s history. We never instituted a rigid quota
system for Jewish students; however, there was always an underlying concern that Jews might overtake
the University due to their disproportionate success on standardized tests. Therefore, President Livingston
Farrand asserted that though “Cornell had not adopted any general anti-Semitic rule,” it could not “permit
itself to be so flooded by Jewish students as to kill non-Jewish attendance.” Though we do not know how
this affected Jewish admissions at the undergraduate colleges, a similar attitude likely influenced the
dean of Cornell’s medical school, who in 1940 described his attempt to “limit the number of Jews
admitted to each class to roughly the proportion of Jews in the population of the state.”
I have no doubt that admissions officers now use similar rhetoric about “flooding” with regards to Asian
students, both at Cornell and around the country. Of course, this is not entirely unwarranted: If Cornell
wishes to create leaders for many different segments of our society, a class of qualified students
representing mostly one ethnic, racial, socioeconomic or political group is undesirable. However, history
suggests that this attitude may both reflect and reinforce widely held, yet unwarranted, cultural stereotypes.
And indeed, many members of the student body will also lump together all Asian students. This has a
decisive impact on our social fabric. Indeed, it is no secret that many of our campus organizations – especially, but not exclusively, fraternities – have an unspoken fear of appearing “too Asian,” just as many
of Cornell’s fraternities, sports teams and ROTC units were careful not to accept or promote too many
Jews in the early 20th century.
Jewish students eventually overcame discrimination in both college admissions and campus life.
However, their success story provides little guidance for Asian students for a few important reasons.
The first is that Jews succeeded due to the University’s newly placed emphasis on merit, as measured
by exam scores and grades. As Espenshade showed, Asian applicants’ merit won’t get them in the door.
More importantly, the “Asian question” has emerged after we’ve made tremendous strides toward
eliminating racial discrimination, and after our society has determined which minorities should benefit
from racial preferences. Our institutions – particularly college admissions officers – have little room
to accommodate new minority groups.
A Chinese friend once expressed frustration with his campus organization, because, by his telling,
at their recruitment meeting they considered their Asian applicants as interchangeable but other ethnic
minorities as worthy of individualized attention. “I think it’s really sad,” he said, after we discussed his
story in light of Jewish quotas. “So many Chinese parents dream of sending their kids to America, but
they have no idea that this is happening.”
His statement resonated deeply with me, but his subsequent point, that Asian students will continue
applying to Cornell no matter how poorly we treat them, resonated more. In their minds, the
opportunities represented by our institution, and by our country, outweigh any discrimination they might
anticipate or even experience. All citizens, and all students – especially those like myself, whose
grandparents faced similar challenges but persevered – must live up to their expectations.
Judah Bellin is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences.
9/16/11 Center for Equal Opportunity: “Racial Preferences in Wisconsin,”
by Linda Chavez
The campus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison erupted this week after the release of two
studies documenting the heavy use of race in deciding which students to admit to the undergraduate
and law schools. The evidence of discrimination is undeniable, and the reaction by critics was
undeniably dishonest and thuggish.
The Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO), which I founded in 1995 to expose and challenge
misguided race-based public policies, conducted the studies based on an analysis of the university’s
own admissions data. But the university was none too keen on releasing the data, which CEO
obtained through filing Freedom of Information Act requests only after a successful legal challenge
went all the way to the state supreme court.
It’s no wonder the university wanted to keep the information secret. The studies show that a black
or Hispanic undergraduate applicant was more than 500 times likelier to be admitted to Wisconsin-
Madison than a similarly qualified white or Asian applicant. The odds ratio favoring black law school
applicants over similarly qualified white applicants was 61 to 1.
The median SAT scores of black undergraduates who were admitted were 150 points lower than
whites or Asians, while the median Hispanic scores were roughly 100 points lower. And median
high school rankings for both blacks and Hispanics were also lower than for either whites or Asians.
CEO has published studies of racial double standards in admissions at scores of public colleges
and universities across the country with similar findings, but none has caused such a violent reaction.
Instead of addressing the findings of the study, the university’s vice provost for diversity, Damon
A. Williams, dishonestly told students that “CEO has one mission and one mission only: dismantle
the gains that were achieved by the civil rights movement.” In fact, CEO’s only mission is to promote
color-blind equal opportunity so that, in Martin Luther King’s vision, no one will be judged by the color
of his or her skin.
Egged on by inflammatory comments by university officials, student groups organized a flashmob
via a Facebook page that was filled with propaganda and outright lies about CEO wanting to dismantle
their student groups. More than a hundred angry students stormed the press conference at the
Doubletree Hotel in Madison, where CEO president Roger Clegg was releasing the study.
The hotel management described what took place in a press statement afterward: “Unfortunately,
when escorting meeting attendees out of the hotel through a private entrance, staff were then rushed by
a mob of protestors, throwing employees to the ground. The mob became increasingly physically violent
when forcing themselves into the meeting room where the press conference had already ended, filling
it over fire-code capacity. Madison police arrived on the scene after the protestors had stormed the hotel.”
But the outrageous behavior didn’t end there — and it wasn’t just students but also faculty who engaged
in disgraceful conduct. Later the same day of the press conference, Clegg debated UW law professor
Larry Church on campus. The crowd booed, hissed, and shouted insults, continuously interrupting
Clegg during the debate.
Having used Facebook to organize the flashmob, students and some faculty extended their use of
social media and tweeted the debate live. Even with Twitter’s 140-character limit, you’d think participants
would be able to come up with something more substantive than the repeated use of the label “racist”
to describe Clegg and his arguments against racial double standards, but hundreds of tweets exhibited
little more than hysterical rants and personal attacks.
Perhaps the most offensive tweet was posted by Sara Goldrick-Rab, an associate professor of
educational policy studies and sociology. After announcing that she was “Getting set to live blog this debate
between a racist and a scholar,” she tweeted that Clegg sounded “like the whitest white boy I’ve ever heard.”
The only racism in evidence came from the defenders of the university’s race-based admissions policies,
such as Professor Goldrick-Rab.
You’d think that a responsible university would denounce the intimidation and lack of civility by its
students and faculty. Instead, Vice Provost Williams told the student newspaper, “I’m most excited about
how well the students represented themselves, the passion with which they engaged, the respectful tone in
how they did it and the thoughtfulness of their questions and interactions.”
It appears that not only are the university’s admissions policies deeply discriminatory, but also that
university officials applaud name-calling, distortion and outright physical assault.
Linda Chavez is the author of “An Unlikely Conservative: The Transformation of an Ex-Liberal.”
7/29/11 Wall Street Journal: “The New Chinese Exclusion Act: Self-appointed civil rights defenders
support rules that keep Asian kids out of top schools,”
By Charles C. Johnson
With Washington focused on a last-minute debt deal, one California congresswoman wants her
colleagues to turn their attention to an anti-immigration law that’s been off the books for 70 years.
Democrat Judy Chu of the 32nd District in Los Angeles County has called on fellow members to join her
in a “Resolution of Regret” over the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 – a bill that House Minority Leader
Nancy Pelosi endorsed on Wednesday.
Setting aside Ms. Chu’s sense of priorities, there’s a deep irony in her resolution. Even as she calls
public attention to sins committed while Chester A. Arthur was president, Ms. Chu staunchly supports the
most harmful form of anti-Asian discrimination in the U.S. today: racial preferences in hiring and university
Ms. Chu’s resolution rightly notes that the Chinese Exclusion Act was “incompatible with the basic
founding principles of equality recognized in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.”
It goes on to call on Congress to “reaffirm its commitment to preserving the same civil rights and
constitutional protections for people of Chinese or other Asian descent in the United States accorded to
all others.” Yet “the same” rights aren’t what Ms. Chu wants for Asians today.
Consider her record. In 1996, while a City Council member in Monterey Park, Ms. Chu campaigned
to defeat Proposition 209 – a ballot initiative that would have outlawed the use of racial references by the
state government. (The proposition passed 54.5% to 45%.)
In 2003, as a state assemblywoman, she crusaded against Proposition 54, which would bar government
from collecting racial data. She argued the law would make it impossible to study hate-crime laws or
suicide rates across ethnic groups. In fact, Prop. 54 did no such thing – it had clear exemptions for law-
enforcement or medical data – but it was nonetheless defeated.
Prop. 209 was the nation’s first referendum explicitly banning a state’s public institutions from taking into
account race, sex or ethnicity in hiring or admissions. For years, administrators in the University of
California system denied discriminating against Asian students. Race, they insisted, was merely used as
a “plus” factor, the standard that the Supreme Court set out in Regents of the University of California v.
Yet after Prop. 209 passed, Asian-American enrollment grew. At UC Berkeley, the system’s flagship,
Asian-American enrollment grew to 43% in 2008 from 37.3% in 1995. At the University of California
San Diego, it grew to 50% from 36% in 1995. Asian-Americans now make up a majority in seven of the
nine UC campuses.
Evidence from Florida and Texas, where preferences were temporarily abolished by court order,
confirms that Asian-Americans are systematically kept out of college in favor of less qualified applicants
benefitting from government-sanctioned racial discrimination. A 2005 study of elite colleges by Princeton
researchers Thomas J. Epenshade and Chang Y. Chung found that in the absence of racial preferences,
Asians would gain four out of five spots that go to blacks and Hispanics.
Another 2009 study from Mr. Epenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford, in collaboration with
Mr. Chung, found that Asian students need a near-perfect SAT score of 1550 to have the same chance
of being admitted at a top school as whites and blacks with scores of 1410 and 1100, respectively.
Overall, whites had a three-fold, Hispanics a six-fold, and blacks a more than 15-fold chance of being
admitted compared to Asian-Americans.
Lee Cheng, spokesman for the Asian American Legal Foundation, told me this month that racial
preferences give Asians a “Chinaman’s chance” of admission to the nation’s best colleges and
universities. Indeed, discrimination against Asians is so pervasive that Daniel Golden, author of
“The Price of Admission,” has dubbed them the “new Jews, inheriting the mantle of the most
disenfranchised group in college admissions.”
Speaking on behalf of her resolution earlier this summer, Ms. Chu saluted George Frisbie Hoar,
the lone Republican senator to vote against the Chinese Exclusion Act, appealing to his legacy
“that all people, no matter the color of their skin or their nation of origin, are the equals of every other
man or woman.” If she and her fellow Democrats truly want America to transcend discrimination, they
need not look 129 years into the past. It is alive and well, harming Americans every single day.
Mr. Johnson, winner of the 2011 Eric Breindel Collegiate award, is a Robert L. Bartley fellow this
summer at the Journal.
7/12/11 National Review: “California Wants to Discriminate Against Asians . . . Again”
by Charles C. Johnson
Okay, so Governor Jerry Brown didn’t say that explicitly when he joined the growing chorus of activists
trying to water down or overturn California’s Proposition 209, a ballot effort that invalidated the
consideration of race in higher education, in the wake of the ruling out of the Sixth Circuit. The Pasadena
Star-News has the details.
The overwhelming losers in this scheme to contort the logic of the Constitution are Asians, as years of
data has revealed.
Jennifer Rubin, writing over at The Weekly Standard in 2008, laid bare the findings of a study that looked
at the abolition of anti-Asian preferences in universities:
A 2008 study of changes at the Universities of California, Texas, and Florida after racial preferences
were eliminated showed:
At UCB [Berkeley], for example, Asian-American FTIC [first time in college] enrollment jumped from
1,277 or 37.30 percent in 1995 to 1,632 or 43.57 percent in 2000 following the implementation of
Proposition 209, and, since that date, the number and percentage of Asian-Americans has increased
steadily at both UCB and UCLA, reaching 46.59 percent at UCB and 41.53 at UCLA. For UCSD
[San Diego], the number of Asian-American students continues to increase as both a number and percent
of the student body, from 1,070 or 35.93 percent in 1995 to 1,133 or 36.33 percent in 2000 and to 1,684
or 46.88 percent in 2005. At Texas, the number of Asian-American FTIC students went from 886 or
14.26 percent in 1995 to 1,311 or 17.74 percent in 2000 and has leveled off at 17.33 percent in 2005,
while in Florida, which has a much smaller Asian-American population, the UF numbers grew from 342
or 7.50 percent in 1995 to 518 or 7.84 percent in 2000, and to 531 or 8.65 percent in 2005.
The authors concluded:
Clearly in an open admissions process where affirmative action does not enter into enrollment
decisions and where legacy and donor issues are discouraged, Asian-American students compete
very well. What the data also reveal is that Asian-American students filled the gap as black and Hispanic
enrollment fell following the elimination of affirmative action in California.
In 2005, yet another study, described in The Chronicle of Higher Education, looked at who would be
the big gainers in a world without affirmative action. Here’s what it found.
In short, black and Latino enrollment would tank, while white enrollments would hardly be affected.
The big winners would be Asian applicants, who appear to face “disaffirmative action” right now. They
would pick up about four out of five spots lost by black and Latino applicants.
. . .
The research looked at admissions decisions at elite colleges and found that without affirmative action,
the acceptance rate for African American candidates would be likely to fall by nearly two-thirds, from
33.7 percent to 12.2 percent, while the acceptance rate for Hispanic applicants probably would be cut
in half, from 26.8 percent to 12.9 percent.
While white admit rates would stay steady, Asian students would be big winners under such a system.
Their admission rate in a race-neutral system would go to 23.4 percent, from 17.6 percent. And their
share of a class of admitted students would rise to 31.5 percent, from 23.7 percent.
All else being equal, Asians have, in the words of an Asian activist friend of mine, “a Chinaman’s
chance” of being admitted at our top schools. If California Republicans were intelligent, they would use
this data against their racist adversaries in every majority-Asian neighborhood in the state.
Why don’t they?
4/17/11 Boston Globe Magazine: “Competitive disadvantage. College Confidential.
High-achieving Asian-American students are being shut out of top schools around the country. Is this what diversity looks like now?”
by Jon Marcus
Although Asian-Americans represent less than 5 percent of the US population (and slightly more than 5 percent in Massachusetts), they make up as much as 20 percent of students at many highly selective private research universities – the kind of schools that make it into top 50 national rankings.
But, critics charge, Asian-American students would constitute an even larger share if many weren’t being filtered out during the admissions process. Since the University of California system moved to a race-blind system 14 years ago, the percentage of Asian-American students in some competitive schools there has reached 40, even 50 percent. On these campuses, the so-called “model minority” is becoming the majority.
In researching their 2009 book No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal, Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade and researcher Alexandria Walton Radford examined data on students applying to college in 1997 and found what looks like different standards for different racial groups. They calculated that Asian-Americans needed nearly perfect SAT scores of 1550 to have the same chance of being accepted at a top private university as whites who scored 1410 and African-Americans who got 1100. Whites were three times, Hispanics six times, and blacks more than 15 times as likely to be accepted at a US university as Asian-Americans.
Asian-Americans represent 17.8 percent, or 383, of the students admitted to Harvard last month, which is up from 14.1 percent a decade ago. During the last five years, however, the proportion there and at other Ivies has remained relatively flat or increased only slightly, even after an Asian-American student at Yale filed a federal complaint in 2006 against Princeton, where he applied but was not accepted, alleging it discriminated against him because of his race. Despite perfect SAT scores and nine Advanced Placement courses, the student said he was also rejected by Harvard, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, and MIT. (That complaint has not been resolved, a US Department of Education spokesman says.)
By contrast, at California’s competitive and race-blind state schools, Asian-Americans are much better represented: 52 percent of the student population at the University of California at Irvine, 40 percent at Berkeley, and 37 percent at UCLA. (The ban on admissions committees considering race was upheld by a federal judge in December.)
The difference suggests that, where considering race is allowed, elite universities may be handicapping Asian-American applicants. “They just all sort of magically end up with under 20 percent Asian students,” Stephen Hsu, a professor of physics at the University of Oregon, says. One Princeton lecturer has asked if that number represents the “Asian ceiling.”
For full story, see http://articles.boston.com/2011-04-17/news/29428526_1_asian-american-students-competitive-schools-high
1/27/11 UCLA Today: “Tiger mom adds to stereotype that burdens Asian American students,”
Mitchell J. Chang is a professor of education and Asian American studies.
His op-ed appeared originally in the Sacramento Bee’s Jan. 26, 2011 edition.
The Wall Street Journal published an essay this month by Yale University law professor Amy Chua titled, “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,” bringing national attention to the methods by which Asian American parents raise high-achieving children. Within a week, the essay received more than 6,500 comments on
the newspaper’s website, catapulting her previously unnoticed book, “Battle Hymn of
the Tiger Mother,” up the New York Times’ list of best-sellers.
Chua’s essay is considered controversial largely because it stresses a rigid parenting style based on tough love – the “Tiger Mother” – that goes against what she considers more typical “Western” styles that emphasize self-esteem and self-discovery. Parenting strategies aside, what has been overlooked is how this essay unintentionally undermines Asian American college applicants by perpetuating an erroneous stereotype.
High-achieving Asian Americans have been struggling against an “Asian tax” in college as well as graduate school admissions for over three decades. In the late ’80s, the federal government investigated charges that Asian American college applicants faced a higher admissions bar than other groups. They concluded in 1990 that Harvard admitted Asian American applicants at a lower rate than white students despite the fact that Asian American applicants had slightly stronger test scores and grades.
The federal government also inspected other elite universities, including some UC campuses where Asian American enrollment dropped despite increased numbers of highly qualified applicants. Federal investigators found that admissions staff at these elite universities had stereotyped Asian American applicants in characterizing them as quiet, shy and not “well rounded.”
In October 2006, Inside Higher Ed reported that at the annual meeting of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, admissions officers and high school counselors readily admitted that bias against Asian Americans continues to be a real problem – so much so that some even recommended that Asian Americans should not identify their race in their applications. Admissions officers reportedly complained on a regular basis that they didn’t “want another boring Asian.”
Meeting participants also reacted to a November 2005 Wall Street Journal article, which reported that white families were leaving top public schools as districts became “too Asian,” apparently referring to a shift in the emphasis of after-school programs away from a sports focus and toward an academic one.
Now comes Chua’s characterization of the “Tiger Mother,” adding to what it means to be “too Asian.” This image contributes to an already problematic stereotype by suggesting not only that most Asian Americans are high-achieving, but also that their achievements are due to overbearing parents.
Her characterization can further tax Asian American college applicants by reducing the chances that they will be viewed as self-starters, risk-takers and independent thinkers – attributes that are often favored by admissions officers but rarely associated with Asian American applicants. If the “Tiger Mother” image leaves a lasting impression and is applied broadly beyond Chua’s own experiences, this characterization can advance a one-dimensional view of Asian Americans that minimizes their achievements and overlooks their diversity.
With any luck, those involved with admissions in higher education fully recognize the shortcomings of Chua’s essay and understand that the story of high achievement for Asian Americans is as varied as the number of college applicants. If they don’t and the “Asian tax” rises instead, we will hopefully be reading about the determination of Asian American parents to eliminate discriminatory admissions practices, rather than essays about an obsession with raising hyper-achieving kids. Ideally, the public will be just as concerned about the former as they have been with the latter.
11/10/10 FoxNews.com: “Get Your Affirmative Action Cupcakes Here!”
By John Stossel
This week, I held a bake sale — a racist bake sale. I stood in midtown Manhattan shouting, “Cupcakes
for sale.” My price list read:
Asians — $1.50
Whites — $1.00
Blacks/Latinos — 50 cents
People stared. One yelled, “What is funny to you about people who are less privileged?” A black
woman said, angrily, “It’s very offensive, very demeaning!” One black man accused me of poisoning the
I understand why people got angry. What I did was hurtful to some. My bake sale mimicked what some
conservative college students did at Bucknell University. The students wanted to satirize their school’s
affirmative action policy, which makes it easier for blacks and Hispanics to get admitted.
I think affirmative action is racism — and therefore wrong. If a private school like Bucknell wants to have
such policies to increase diversity, fine. But government-imposed affirmative action is offensive. Equality
before the law means government should treat citizens equally.
But it doesn’t. Our racist government says that any school receiving federal tax dollars, even if only in
the form of federal aid to students, must comply with affirmative action rules, and some states have
enacted their own policies.
Advocates of affirmative action argue it is needed because of historic discrimination. Maybe that was
true in 1970, but it’s no longer true. Affirmative action is now part of the minority special privilege
machine, an indispensable component of which is perpetual victimhood.
All the Bucknell students wanted was a campus discussion about that. Why not? A university is
supposed to be a place for open discussion, but some topics are apparently off-limits. On my Fox
Business show this week, I’ll discuss this with a member of the Bucknell Conservative Club who
participated in the bake sale.
About an hour after the students began their “affirmative action” sale, the associate dean of students
shut it down. He said it was because the prices charged were different from those listed on the
permissions application. An offer to change the prices was rejected. Then the club’s application to
hold another sale was rejected. Ironically, the associate dean said it would violate the schools
nondiscrimination policy! He would authorize a debate on affirmative action, but nothing else.
How ridiculous! Fortunately, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has come to
the students’ defense:
“Using this absurd logic, Bucknell would have to require its College Democrats to say nothing
political on campus unless they give equal time to Republican candidates at their events, or its Catholic
Campus Ministry to remain silent about abortion unless it holds a debate and invites pro-choice
activists to speak,” FIRE’s Adam Kissel said. “While students are free to host debates, they must not
be required to provide a platform for their ideological opponents. Rather, those opponents must be
free to spread their own messages and host their own events.”
Right. My affirmative action cupcake event led to some interesting discussions. One young woman
began by criticizing me, “It’s absolutely wrong.”
But after I raised the parallel with college admissions, she said: “No race of people is worth more
than another. Or less.”
But do you believe in affirmative action in colleges? I asked.
“I used to,” she replied.
Those are the kind discussions students should have.
Affirmative action wasn’t the only issue that brought conservative Bucknell students grief. When
they tried to protest President Obama’s $787 billion “stimulus” spending last year by handing out
fake dollar bills, the school stopped them for violating rules against soliciting! According to FIRE,
Bucknell’s solicitation policy covers only sales and fundraising, which the students were not engaged
in, but the school rejected the students’ appeal, saying permission was needed to distribute “anything,
from Bibles to other matter.”
Absurd! The Bucknell administration tells me it stopped the anti-stimulus protest because the
students had not registered to use that busy campus space. FIRE disputes that.
“Distributing protest literature is an American free-speech tradition that dates to before the founding
of the United States,” Kissel said. “Why is Bucknell so afraid of students handing out ‘Bibles [or] other
matter’ that might provide challenging perspectives? Colleges are supposed to be marketplaces of
ideas, but Bucknell is betraying this ideal.”
It is, indeed. Why are America’s institutions of higher learning so fearful?
John Stossel is host of “Stossel” on the Fox Business Network.
8/17/10 International Business Times: “Asian-Americans in the Ivy League: A Portrait of Privilege and Discrimination,”
By Palash R. Ghosh
Reflecting their growing social and economic prominence in the U.S., Asian-Americans are disproportionately represented at the most elite universities in the land, relative to their numbers in the total population.
While “Asians” — defined broadly as people who can trace their ancestry to East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Pacific Islands — account for only about 5 percent of the U.S. populace, they are believed to represent up to 20 percent of the enrollment at the top Ivy League schools.
However, the irony is that if the admission criteria and process in all U.S. universities were completely fair and equitable — that is, based purely on academic qualifications — the Asian weighting in the elite colleges would likely be significantly higher.
In an article in the Boston Globe, Kara Miller, a history professor at Babson College, wrote that Asian-Americans score an average of 1623 — out of a possible 2400 — on SAT tests. By comparison, Hispanics and blacks average 1,364 and 1,276 on the SAT, respectively, while whites average 1,581.
Quite a conundrum, indeed. Are Asians being celebrated and rewarded for their hard work, intelligence and success? Or are they being discriminated against?
It depends on who you ask.
Consider what happened in California — a state with a very high Asian population of about 13 percent — in late 1996. Voters passed Proposition 209, a referendum that essentially revoked Affirmative Action measures and deemed that entry into public colleges — including the huge University of California (UC) system — should be entirely race-blind.
“A direct consequence of this was that the percentage of Asian-Americans at universities like Berkeley, UC-Irvine, and UCLA immediately skyrocketed,” said Stephen D.H. Hsu, a professor of physics at the University of Oregon in Eugene.
“At those institutions, the Asian-American representation currently approaches 50 percent.”
Not surprisingly, the passage of “209” led to a political backlash and resentment against Asian-Americans — from whites, but particularly from African-Americans and Hispanics, who saw their numbers plunge at these institutions.”
The administration at UC is now under significant pressure to remove the current system, Hsu noted.
“They’ve responded to the criticism by tweaking the admission process,” he said.
“Test scores are not weighted as heavily as high school GPA, and the top few percent of graduates at each high school are admitted to UC, even if, in absolute terms, they are not as strong as higher scoring students from top high schools.”
Of course, Hsu adds, Asian-Americans are generally happy with things as they are — since they both find it fair and beneficial to them.
Moreover, California’s top two private schools, Stanford University and California Institute of Technology (Caltech) also boast disproportionately high Asian-American representation.
“At my alma mater, Caltech, which has a heavy focus on science and engineering and a completely meritocratic admission process, Asian-Americans account for 30 percent-40 percent of the student body,” Hsu added.
Hsu concludes that Affirmative Action probably hurts both whites and Asians since it arbitrarily takes class slots away from them.
This is quite ironic since Asian-Americans have long been discriminated in most other ways throughout their long history in this country.
The word “quota” is controversial and politically-charged; one must be careful when using it. However it’s difficult not to conclude that some elite universities do indeed impose a quota — officially or subconsciously — upon Asian enrollment in order to control their numbers at some specified levels.
Consider a recent study undertaken by Thomas Espenshade, a Princeton sociologist. He calculated that in 1997 African-Americans who achieved scores of 1150 scores on two original SAT tests had the same chances of getting accepted to top private colleges as whites who scored in the 1460s and Asians who scored perfect 1600s.
Or put it another way, Asian applicants typically need to score an extra 140 or so points on their SATs to compete “equally” with white students.
Miller of Babson College also wrote that “most elite universities appear determined to keep their Asian American totals in a narrow range. Yale’s class of 2013 is 15.5 percent Asian American, compared with 16.1 percent at Dartmouth, 19.1 percent at Harvard and 17.6 percent at Princeton.”
However, white students are similarly victimized by admission policies at some elite schools.
Espenshade discovered that when comparing applicants with similar grades, scores, athletic qualifications, and family history for seven elite private colleges and universities: whites were three times as likely to get accepted as Asians; Hispanics were twice as likely to win admission as whites. and African-Americans were at least five times as likely to be accepted as whites.
Moreover, if all elite private universities enacted race-blind admissions, the percentage of Asian students would jump from 24 percent to 39 percent (similar to what they already are now at Caltech and Berkeley, two elite institutions with race-blind admissions; the former due to a belief in meritocracy, the latter due to Proposition 209).
What Asian-Americans are enduring now is reminiscent of the travails of American Jews in the 1930s and 1940s, when colleges like Harvard and Yale imposed quotas to limit their numbers at these elite institutions. And like many of those Jews from seven or eight decades ago, numerous Asian-American students today come from poor, humble immigrant households.
Perhaps the bottom line in all this discussion is that entry into and success in top-flight schools — regardless of the surrounding circumstances and controversies — are pushing more and more Asian-Americans into prominent positions in corporate America, Wall Street and even the corridors of power in Washington D.C.
3/28/10 San Francisco Chronicle: “Ivy League schools’ barrier to Asian Americans,”
by Jules Older
Somewhere in hell, at this very moment, industrious devils are preparing a particularly hot fire. A busload of VIP sinners is on its way down.
They’re from America’s leading universities. And even better … their grandparents are already there.
Both generations are from Ivy League college admissions offices. Both are guilty of sins against humanity and the American way.
The grandparents are still searing for discrimination against Jews. The new crop will be charbroiled throughout eternity for the same crimes against Asians.
Amazed by the lack of learning at prestigious institutions of learning, the denizens of hell can’t get over their good fortune.
The grandparents ran the admissions offices of American universities during the 1930s and ’40s. One of their jobs was to keep their institutions from being “overwhelmed” by Jewish kids from New York.
The New Yorkers had heroic stories. They were poor and hardworking, and their parents were new American immigrants, escaping oppression, even death. The kids got into college because their mothers made them do their homework.
Only they didn’t get in.
They were kept out by the quota system, by a newfound interest in “geographic diversity” and by plain old bigotry. They weren’t wanted, and those who did squeeze through the barriers (in that pushy way of theirs) were simply too smart to keep out.
But surely, lessons have been learned since then.
In her carefully researched article in the Boston Globe, “Do colleges redline Asian Americans?,” adjunct Professor Kara Miller clearly demonstrates that, yes, they do. Here’s the most damning piece of evidence: “Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade, who reviewed data from 10 elite colleges, writes … that Asian applicants typically need an extra 140 points [on their SATs] to compete with white students.”
140 extra points? Try carrying that weight in your high school backpack. Like the predominantly Eastern Jews of the past century, the mostly Western Asians of this one are being routinely, systematically and almost openly discriminated against by America’s leading educational institutions.
“Indeed,” Miller writes, “most elite universities appear determined to keep their Asian American totals in a narrow range. Yale’s class of 2013 is 15.5 percent Asian American, compared with 16.1 percent at Dartmouth, 19.1 percent at Harvard and 17.6 percent at Princeton.”
And these practices aren’t just at East Coast universities. Espenshade’s research included institutions from all over the country.
Two facts are particularly galling: Our best and brightest halls of higher education have apparently learned nothing from their past sins. Nothing.
Even worse, the kids these schools reject are once again exemplars of the American dream. They come from poor, immigrant families. Many narrowly escaped from horrors at home. They’re being rejected in favor of the wealthy offspring of already privileged white Americans who presumably look more like the alumni than they do.
In 1958, Pete Seeger recorded “The Ballad of Sherman Wu.” To the tune of “Streets of Laredo,” it recounted the tale of a student at Northwestern University who was “depledged” from a fraternity because he was Asian. Here’s the key line, spoken by the fraternity president:
If he were just Jewish,
Or Spanish or German,
But he’s so damned Chinese,
The whole campus would know.
What’s happened between the 1950s and the 2010s? Back then, Sherman Wu couldn’t get into a fraternity. Now he might not get into college.
That’s why the furnaces of hell are going full blast.
Jules Older, julesolder.com, lives and writes in San Francisco.
2/8/10 Boston Globe: “Do colleges redline Asian-Americans?”
by Kara Miller
SAT Scores aren’t everything. But they can tell some fascinating stories.
Take 1,623, for instance. That’s the average score of Asian-Americans, a group that Daniel Golden – editor at large of Bloomberg News and author of “The Price of Admission” – has labeled “The New Jews.” After all, much like Jews a century ago, Asian-Americans tend to earn good grades and high scores. And now they too face serious discrimination in the college admissions process.
Notably, 1,623 – out of a possible 2,400 – not only separates Asians from other minorities (Hispanics and blacks average 1,364 and 1,276 on the SAT, respectively). The score also puts them ahead of Caucasians, who average 1,581. And the consequences of this are stark.
Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade, who reviewed data from 10 elite colleges, writes in “No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal” that Asian applicants typically need an extra 140 points to compete with white students. In fact, according to Princeton lecturer Russell Nieli, there may be an “Asian ceiling” at Princeton, a number above which the admissions office refuses to venture.
Emily Aronson, a Princeton spokeswoman, insists “the university does not admit students in categories. In the admission process, no particular factor is assigned a fixed weight and there is no formula for weighing the various aspects of the application.”
A few years ago, however, when I worked as a reader for Yale’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions, it became immediately clear to me that Asians – who constitute 5 percent of the US population – faced an uphill slog. They tended to get excellent scores, take advantage of AP offerings, and shine in extracurricular activities. Frequently, they also had hard-knock stories: families that had immigrated to America under difficult circumstances, parents working as kitchen assistants and store clerks, and households in which no English was spoken.
But would Yale be willing to make 50 percent of its freshman class Asian? Probably not.
Indeed, as Princeton’s Nieli suggests, most elite universities appear determined to keep their Asian-American totals in a narrow range. Yale’s class of 2013 is 15.5 percent Asian-American, compared with 16.1 percent at Dartmouth, 19.1 percent at Harvard, and 17.6 percent at Princeton.
“There are a lot of poor Asians, immigrant kids,” says University of Oregon physics professor Stephen Hsu, who has written about the admissions process. “But generally that story doesn’t do as much as it would for a non-Asian student. Statistically, it’s true that Asians generally have to get higher scores than others to get in.”
In a country built on individual liberty and promise, that feels deeply unfair. If a teenager spends much time studying, excels at an instrument or sport, and garners wonderful teacher recommendations, should he be punished for being part of a high-achieving group? Are his accomplishments diminished by the fact that people he has never met – but who look somewhat like him – also work hard?
“When you look at the private Ivy Leagues, some of them are looking at Asian-American applicants with a different eye than they are white applicants,” says Oiyan Poon, the 2007 president of the University of California Students Association. “I do strongly believe in diversity, but I don’t agree with increasing white numbers over historically oppressed populations like Asian-Americans, a group that has been denied civil rights and property rights.” But Poon, now a research associate at the University of Massachusetts Boston, warns that there are downsides to having huge numbers of Asian-Americans on a campus.
In California, where passage of a 1996 referendum banned government institutions from discriminating on the basis of race, Asians make up about 40 percent of public university students, though they account for only 13 percent of residents. “Some Asian-American students feel that they lost something by going to school at a place where almost half of their classmates look like themselves – a campus like UCLA. The students said they didn’t feel as well prepared in intercultural skills for the real world.”
But what do you do if you’re an elite college facing tremendous numbers of qualified Asian applicants? At the 2006 meeting of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, a panel entitled “Too Asian?” looked at the growing tendency of teachers, college counselors, and admissions officers to see Asians as a unit, rather than as individuals.
Hsu argues it’s time to tackle this issue, rather than defer it, as Asians’ superior performance will likely persist. “This doesn’t seem to be changing. You can see the same thing with Jews. They’ve outperformed other ethnic groups for the past 100 years.”
Which leaves us with two vexing questions: Are we willing to trade personal empowerment for a more palatable group dynamic? And when – if ever – should we give credit where credit is due?
Kara Miller teaches at Babson College.
7/6/09: Selling Merit Down the River
By Russell K. Nieli
Excerpted from pages 21 and 22
The River Pilots’ concern here may be misplaced, however, for even if black and
Latino students do earn substantially lower grades than whites and Asians, they may have
just as good a chance as the members of those higher-performing groups of gaining
entrance to competitive graduate and professional schools. The admissions boost for
being black at many of the most competitive law schools, medical schools, business
schools, and graduate programs is often huge — larger even in standard deviation terms
than the undergraduate college boost — and black undergraduates all know this. The
post-graduate boost for being Latino is less but still substantial. Mediocre grades for a
black or Latino student is not the same impediment to getting into a good graduate or
professional school as it is for a white or Asian.
Consider, for example, medical schools. According to the American Association
of Medical Colleges, the average college GPA in the pre-med college science courses for
all whites who entered an American medical school in 2007 was 3.63, and for Asians a
near-identical 3.62. For blacks, however, it was only 3.29. This is by itself a very
significant difference but the spread of the black scores was much wider than that of
either the whites or Asians (black SD .43, white and Asian SD each .29), indicating that
significant numbers of blacks with science GPAs as low as 2.9 or 3.0 were accepted into
medical schools, scores that would virtually preclude whites or Asians. Latino science
GPAs were roughly halfway between those of the blacks and the higher-scoring whites
and Asians (3.45 mean).
Scores on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) tell a similar story. The
median score on the basic science part of the MCAT for a black admitted to medical
school in 2007 was equal to that of a white at only the 14th percentile of white admits, and
of an Asian at only the 10th percentile of Asian admits. In other words, 86% of whites
and 90% of Asians entering medical schools did better on the MCAT basic science
section than the median black. Once again, Latino scores were roughly halfway between
the blacks and the higher-scoring Asians and whites.20 This same pattern was shown in
earlier studies of MCAT scores. For instance, a Rand Corporation study of admissions
policies at ten medical schools in the late 1970s found a black/white gap in MCAT scores
well over a standard deviation, a Chicano/white gap slightly less than one SD. The Rand
study calculated that a black or Chicano applicant with a better then 50% chance of
admission to these ten medical schools, had that applicant been held to the same entrance
standards as whites, would have reduced his admissions chances to only about one-in twenty,
or 5%.21 From a 5% admissions chance up to a 50% or better chance as the bonus
for being black or Chicano — can anyone imagine that this will have no effect on many
of those seeking to gain entry into the medical profession?
The law school story is similar. Consider for instance the University of Michigan
Law School, one of the ten most prestigious in the nation. Like virtually all competitive
law schools, Michigan places a great emphasis on the LSAT, a test of several kinds of
aptitudes needed for the successful completion of a rigorous law school curriculum.
Scores on the LSAT range from 120 to 180 (much like the 200 to 800 scoring system on
the SAT) with the average score of those admitted to the highest ranking schools being
around 170 (at the lowest ranked schools admits average around 150). In 2004, a year
after the Supreme Court’s Grutter decision approving Michigan Law’s racial preference
program, the median LSAT score for both white and Asian admits was 169, just under
the typical score earned by whites at top-rated Harvard and Yale. For black admits,
however, the average score was only 160. Now a 160 is certainly a respectable LSAT
score, but for a white or Asian such a score might gain an entry ticket to a middle-range
law school like Boston University, the University of Washington, or Rutgers, but never to
a top-ten school like Michigan. Blacks essentially compete only with one another for
entry to the nations’ top law schools, all of which practice a system of de facto race
norming and (slightly flexible) quota admissions (though none of them will admit this
publically). Black LSAT scores need not be, and usually are not, competitive with those
of whites and Asians. Indeed, at Michigan in 2004, a 75th percentile black admit had an
LSAT score (164) significantly lower than that of a 25th percentile white (167) or Asian
(167) admit. Latino LSAT scores were much better than those of the blacks (mean 166)
but still significantly behind the whites and Asians.
The lowering of the bar for underrepresented minorities extends to the college
GPA as well. A study of Michigan Law School applicants submitted during the litigation
over the Grutter case indicated that in 1995 the average GPA for white admits was 3.68,
that of blacks only 3.33. Of students with college GPAs in the 3.25 to 3.45 range and
LSAT scores near the 75th percentile of the national distribution, 51 whites applied to
Michigan in 1995, 14 Asians, and 10 blacks. But only one of the whites in this credential
range was admitted to Michigan’s elite law school that year, while none of the Asians
were. Blacks had a much easier time of it: all of the blacks in this credential range were
accepted though their grades and test scores would have virtually precluded them from
admission were they white or Asian.23 How reasonable is it to think that knowledge of
such lowered standards will not filter down to the black sophomores and juniors at
various Michigan colleges who plan on attending Michigan or some other elite law
school? And given the knowledge of such lowered standards, how reasonable is it to
think that this will not negatively affect the behavior of many of those who know they
can get into great law schools like Michigan’s without having to match the performance
of their white and Asian classmates?