From La Shawn Barber:
‘Yellow Peril’ Redux
Asian students face discrimination in college admissions.
Most people are familiar with so-called affirmative action policies that favor blacks (purportedly to redress past discrimination) and Hispanics and penalize whites. Racial preferences are discriminatory toward individuals of Asian descent as well.
According to Bloomberg, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is investigating complaints that Harvard and Princeton discriminate against Asian students in admissions.
Naturally, the schools deny the claims. Harvard “does not discriminate against Asian-American applicants,” spokesman Jeff Neal told Bloomberg. “Our review of every applicant’s file is highly individualized and holistic, as we give serious consideration to all of the information we receive and all of the ways in which the candidate might contribute to our vibrant educational environment and community.”
Asian students typically have a higher level of academic success and tend to be overrepresented in colleges and universities, particularly in California. Asians are about 5.6 percent of the U.S. population (Asian only and Asian multiracial) and 13 percent of California’s population, but they account for about 30 percent of undergraduates in the University of California (UC) system.
In 2009, UC’s Board of Regents voted to change the admissions policy, which included eliminating the requirement that applicants take two SAT subject tests, effective this year. The obvious intent of the changes is to expand the black and Hispanic applicant pool. The Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus said the new rules would reduce the percentages of Asian Pacific Islanders from 32.6 percent to 25.2 percent of the eligibility pool.
More at the link; hat tip to Instapundit. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this kind of thing in the United States. In the first half of the twentieth century, many American universities, most notably Harvard, saw teir student bodies as having too large a proportion of Jews, and various “numerus clausus” were adopted, to keep the racial, religious and ethnic background of the student body within the desired norms.
Now, what did the Jews do which led to the early restrictions? Why, they committed the horrible sin of working too hard in primary and secondary schools, and getting the best grades, and thus out-competed other groups for seats in prestigious universities. Jews in the United States were seen as having done just a little bit too well, in a time when people were rather conscious of who the Jews were, because the anti-Semites were always around to point them out. Things were worse in Europe, culminating in the Holocaust, but many of the Jewish quotas in the US began well before the Nazis took power in Germany.
Today? Apparently, it’s the turn of the Asians. Jews are (usually) Caucasians, and aren’t always immediately recognizable as a particular ethnic group, but Asians, why anyone can spot an Asian. And our top universities are getting a little too
yellow Asian in appearance these days, and it’s very noticeable.
So, what did the Asians do which has made them so awfully visible? Why, they did just what the Jews did: they reared their children to study hard in school, to work hard and get the best grades, so that they could win admission to the top colleges and universities. They did, in fact, exactly what the American work ethic and ideal of the American dream says they should do. Considering that a large portion of our Asian population arrived here just a generation ago, fleeing Communism in China and Vietnam and Cambodia, almost always dirt poor, and they have come so far, so fast, your editor would say that they have done things exactly the way we have always said that things should be done. It’s a bit of a stereotype, to be sure, but stereotypes have their basis in reality: the new Asian immigrants worked hard, lived very frugally, and saved their money so they could send their children to college, to build better lives than they had.
In 2009, Thomas Espenshade, a Princeton University professor, and Alexandria Walton Radford, who holds a doctorate from Princeton, published a study that revealed students of Asian descent faced discrimination at elite colleges and universities. 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. If that’s not racial/ethnic discrimination, what is?
However, this is unsurprising. It is, after all, government policy that colleges and universities should employ Affirmative Action, to insure that blacks and Hispanics are not “under-represented” in their student bodies, that they educate a “diverse” group of people. That means, as Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor specifically allowed in Grutter v Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003), the race of a university applicant can be considered to achieve “diversity,” though race cannot constitute a hard quota.1 If Affirmative Action is allowable and reasonable, to insure that blacks and Hispanics are not under-represented in student bodies, does it not make perfect sense that Affirmative Action to depress the number of Asian students to prevent whites from becoming under-represented in student bodies would also be reasonable and allowable?
Your editor is somewhat fond of the reductio ad absurdum form of argument, at least when well constructed, but he doesn’t need to construct one here at all: it seems that some of our elite colleges have gone ahead and done it for us.