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Affirmative Action Case Splits Asian Americans: Are You For or Against?

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Asian American lawyers have taken a strong stand on university affirmative action

in the case to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this week — and on opposite sides of the issue.

This is an old article (from 2003) but the issue of Affirmative Action as working for or against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders has not gone away nor sorted itself out. What do you think of Affirmative Action? Please vote and share your thoughts.

Here are some quotes from the article:

  • ” .. .some critics of affirmative action say Asian American students may be put at a disadvantage if universities give preference to applicants who are black or Latino.
  • …the high court’s record regarding Asians is spotty too.
  • When legal scholars cite the high court’s worst equal-protection rulings of the 20th century, they often point to Korematsu vs. U.S., the 1944 decision that upheld the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.”
  • In the 1970s, when the Supreme Court first took up the issue of college affirmative action, Asian American lawyers strongly supported admission policies that gave an advantage to minority students. At that time, Asian students qualified for this preference.
  • By the early 1980s, the soaring admission rates for Asian Americans prompted university officials to drop them from the minority category.
  • [Asian critics of affirmative action] Their brief to the Supreme Court describes diversity rules in the San Francisco public schools that limited the proportion of Chinese Americans to 45% of a school’s enrollment.
  • But proponents of affirmative action stress that they are not in favor of quotas or ceilings.
  • … opinion surveys show that most Asian Americans support affirmative action.”

For all posts on Affirmative Action and AAPIs, please click here.

Affirmative Action Case Splits Asian Americans

THE NATION

University’s policy, set for debate in high court, is seen as needed and as limiting, lawyers say.

March 30, 2003|David G. Savage | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Asian American lawyers have taken a strong stand on university affirmative action in the case to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this week — and on opposite sides of the issue.

The San Francisco-based Asian American Legal Foundation agrees with the white plaintiffs and urges the court to end race-based admission policies.

“The Constitution protects individuals, and individuals should not be judged on their race,” says Alan Tse, a San Francisco lawyer.

But the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, a coalition of 25 Asian civil rights groups, sides with the University of Michigan and urges the court to preserve affirmative action.

“This is about fairness and equal opportunity. Asian Americans benefit from diversity. They are not hurt by it,” says Julie Su, a lawyer for the Asian Pacific American Legal Center in Los Angeles.

The division of opinion reflects, in part, the history and status of Asian Americans.

They are a racial minority group that has suffered from racism and blatant discrimination.

However, some critics of affirmative action say Asian American students may be put at a disadvantage if universities give preference to applicants who are black or Latino.

“My sense is that most Asians are supportive of affirmative action generally, especially in employment and business. But the situation is a bit muddier for higher education,” said Bill Lann Lee, a San Francisco attorney who led the Justice Department’s civil rights division in the Clinton administration.

While most civil rights law focused on discrimination against blacks, the Supreme Court’s earliest civil rights rulings dealt just as often with exclusionary laws against Chinese people in California.

The Constitution was amended after the Civil War to stop Southern states from mistreating the newly freed slaves and to require the “equal protection of the laws.” This amendment, the 14th, passed with high hopes but was steadily weakened by the Supreme Court and did little to help blacks.

However, federal judges in California — and the Supreme Court itself — invoked the new equality standard in the 1880s to strike down laws that excluded Chinese people from government jobs, from fishing in state waters and from operating laundries in San Francisco.

But the high court’s record regarding Asians is spotty too.

When legal scholars cite the high court’s worst equal-protection rulings of the 20th century, they often point to Korematsu vs. U.S., the 1944 decision that upheld the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

In the 1970s, when the Supreme Court first took up the issue of college affirmative action, Asian American lawyers strongly supported admission policies that gave an advantage to minority students. At that time, Asian students qualified for this preference.

Allan Bakke, a rejected white applicant, had sued UC Davis Medical School, claiming discrimination.

In response, the university conceded that it set aside 16 of its 100 slots for members of a “minority group,” which it defined as “blacks,” “Chicanos,” “Asians” and “American Indians.”

In 1978, the court struck down this “quota” as unconstitutional, but also said a university may consider a student’s race in order to create diversity.

By the early 1980s, the soaring admission rates for Asian Americans prompted university officials to drop them from the minority category.

“These programs ended when they were no longer needed. And there was no longer a need for Asians to be included,” said Lee, the former civil rights chief.

But Asian critics of affirmative action say they fear that a Supreme Court ruling would allow colleges and universities to put ceilings on the number of Asian American students.

Their brief to the Supreme Court describes diversity rules in the San Francisco public schools that limited the proportion of Chinese Americans to 45% of a school’s enrollment.

The rules also limited the number of Chinese students who could gain admission to the city’s elite Lowell High School.

When some Chinese American students were turned away from their neighborhood elementary schools, parents sued in federal court, and the school district agreed to abandon the policy.

“We fought the San Francisco schools for five years over this, and the only protection we had was the constitutional principle against race-based laws,” Tse said.

If the Supreme Court says the University of Michigan is entitled to raise or lower the number of minority students, the ruling could allow public schools to do the same, he said.

But proponents of affirmative action stress that they are not in favor of quotas or ceilings.

“They are trying to bring up examples of strict numerical limits, but that’s not what we are talking about. Affirmation action is about opportunities,” said Su, the Los Angeles lawyer. “I think it’s unfortunate they have tried to pit Asian Americans against other communities of color.”

She said opinion surveys show that most Asian Americans support affirmative action.

In 1996, 76% of Asian American voters in California said in an election exit poll that they voted against Proposition 209, the ballot measure that barred the state from giving “preferential treatment” to any person because of race or ethnicity.

University of California officials say the change in admission policies has had little, if any, effect on the number of Asian American students.

In 1997, before Proposition 209 went into effect, Asian American students accounted for 33.2% of the students admitted to the nine UC campuses. In 2002, they accounted for 33.8% of those admitted.

Asian Americans are the second-largest minority group in California, behind Latinos. In the 2000 census, Asians made up 11% of the state’s population, while Latinos were 32% and blacks 6.7%.

Nationwide, Latinos accounted for 12.5% of the population, blacks 12.3% and Asians 3.6%.

Divided opinion on affirmative action is not limited to Asian Americans. A similar debate has taken place among Jewish organizations.

The American Jewish Committee, which opposed the use of quotas in the Bakke case, filed a brief this year supporting the University of Michigan.

“Flexible goals aimed at increasing the numbers of minority students at a given university are not the same as unconstitutional quotas,” the group says.

However, the Anti-Defamation League filed a brief on the other side.

“While strongly sympathetic to the goal of increasing the numbers of minority students in our nation’s selective universities, the ADL continues to adhere to the principle that school admissions programs must be race neutral,” it says.

The high court is scheduled to hear arguments in the Michigan case Tuesday.

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Don’t Check ‘Asian’ When Applying to College?

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Asian kids know that when you look at the average SAT for the school, they need to add 50 or 100 to it.

If you’re Asian, that’s what you’ll need to get in.

Kara Miller, reviewed applications for Yale as an admissions office reader

There are times that a Machiavellian approach pays off and I would say that for Asian American students seeking to gain entrance to America’s elite colleges and universities, this would be a good time. It’s not like gaming isn’t part of the process when getting into the Ivy League or colleges like them. When it comes to the OPTIONAL race box, what to do? This article gives both sides of the coin.

I think that this is an individual decision that each student should make with eyes wide open. If you are compelled to check the Asian box, by all means do it, as long as you realize that this is not improving your chances of admittance as one would think given it’s part of Affirmative Action.

p.s. For all articles on Don’t Identify as Asian When Applying to College, please go here.

Some Asians’ college strategy: Don’t check ‘Asian’

By JESSE WASHINGTON | AP

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 theapplication process.”

For years, many Asian-Americans have been convinced that it’s harder for them to gain admission to the nation’s top colleges.

Studies show that Asian-Americans meet these colleges’ admissions standards far out of proportion to their 6 percent representation in the U.S. population, and that they often need test scores hundreds of points higher than applicants from other ethnic groups to have an equal chance of admission. Critics say these numbers, along with the fact that some top colleges with race-blind admissions have double the Asian percentage of Ivy League schools, prove the existence of discrimination.

The way it works, the critics believe, is that Asian-Americans are evaluated not as individuals, but against the thousands of other ultra-achieving Asians who are stereotyped as boring academic robots.

Now, an unknown number of students are responding to this concern by declining to identify themselves as Asian on their applications.

For those with only one Asian parent, whose names don’t give away their heritage, that decision can be relatively easy. Harder are the questions that it raises: What’s behind the admissions difficulties? What, exactly, is an Asian-American — and is being one a choice?

Olmstead is a freshman at Harvard and a member of HAPA, the Half-Asian People’s Association. In high school she had a perfect 4.0 grade-point average and scored 2150 out of a possible 2400 on the SAT, which she calls “pretty low.”

College applications ask for parent information, so Olmstead knows that admissions officers could figure out a student’s background that way. She did write in the word “multiracial” on her own application.

Still, she would advise students with one Asian parent to “check whatever race is not Asian.”

“Not to really generalize, but a lot of Asians, they have perfect SATs, perfect GPAs, … so it’s hard to let them all in,” Olmstead says.

Amalia Halikias is a Yale freshman whose mother was born in America to Chinese immigrants; her father is a Greek immigrant. She also checked only the “white” box on her application.

“As someone who was applying with relatively strong scores, I didn’t want to be grouped into that stereotype,” Halikias says. “I didn’t want to be written off as one of the 1.4 billion Asians that were applying.”

Her mother was “extremely encouraging” of that decision, Halikias says, even though she places a high value on preserving their Chinese heritage.

“Asian-American is more a scale or a gradient than a discrete combination . I think it’s a choice,” Halikias says.

But leaving the Asian box blank felt wrong to Jodi Balfe, a Harvard freshman who was born in Korea and came here at age 3 with her Korean mother and white American father. She checked the box against the advice of her high school guidance counselor, teachers and friends.

“I felt very uncomfortable with the idea of trying to hide half of my ethnic background,” Balfe says. “It’s been a major influence on how I developed as a person. It felt like selling out, like selling too much of my soul.”

“I thought admission wouldn’t be worth it. It would be like only half of me was accepted.”

Other students, however, feel no conflict between a strong Asian identity and their response to what they believe is injustice.

“If you know you’re going to be discriminated against, it’s absolutely justifiable to not check the Asian box,” says Halikias.

Immigration from Asian countries was heavily restricted until laws were changed in 1965. When the gates finally opened, many Asian arrivals were well-educated, endured hardships to secure more opportunities for their families, and were determined to seize the American dream through effort and education.

These immigrants, and their descendants, often demanded that children work as hard as humanly possible to achieve. Parental respect is paramount in Asian culture, so many children have obeyed — and excelled.

“Chinese parents can order their kids to get straight As. Western parents can only ask their kids to try their best,” wrote Amy Chua, only half tongue-in-cheek, in her recent best-selling book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.”

“Chinese parents can say, ‘You’re lazy. All your classmates are getting ahead of you,'” Chua wrote. “By contrast, Western parents have to struggle with their own conflicted feelings about achievement, and try to persuade themselves that they’re not disappointed about how their kids turned out.”

Of course, not all Asian-Americans fit this stereotype. They are not always obedient hard workers who get top marks. Some embrace American rather than Asian culture. Their economic status, ancestral countries and customs vary, and their forebears may have been rich or poor.

But compared with American society in general, Asian-Americans have developed a much stronger emphasis on intense academic preparation as a path to a handful of the very best schools.

“The whole Tiger Mom stereotype is grounded in truth,” says Tao Tao Holmes, a Yale sophomore with a Chinese-born mother and white American father. She did not check “Asian” on her application.

“My math scores aren’t high enough for the Asian box,” she says. “I say it jokingly, but there is the underlying sentiment of, if I had emphasized myself as Asian, I would have (been expected to) excel more in stereotypically Asian-dominated subjects.”

“I was definitely held to a different standard (by my mom), and to different standards than my friends,” Holmes says. She sees the same rigorous academic focus among many other students with immigrant parents, even non-Asian ones.

Does Holmes think children of American parents are generally spoiled and lazy by comparison? “That’s essentially what I’m trying to say.”

Asian students have higher average SAT scores than any other group, including whites. A study by Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade examined applicants to top colleges from 1997, when the maximum SAT score was 1600 (today it’s 2400). Espenshade found that Asian-Americans needed a 1550 SAT to have an equal chance of getting into an elite college as white students with a 1410 or black students with an 1100.

Top schools that don’t ask about race in admissions process have very high percentages of Asian students. The California Institute of Technology, a private school that chooses not to consider race, is about one-third Asian. (Thirteen percent of California residents have Asian heritage.) The University of California-Berkeley, which is forbidden by state law to consider race in admissions, is more than 40 percent Asian — up from about 20 percent before the law was passed.

Steven Hsu, a physics professor at the University of Oregon and a vocal critic of current admissions policies, says there is a clear statistical case that discrimination exists.

“The actual dynamics of how it happens are really quite subtle,” he says, mentioning factors like horse-trading among admissions officers for their favorite candidates.

Also, “when Asians are the largest group on campus, I can easily imagine a fund-raiser saying, ‘This is jarring to our alumni,'” Hsu says. Noting that most Ivy League schools have roughly the same percentage of Asians, he wonders if “that’s the maximum number where diversity is still good, and it’s not, ‘we’re being overwhelmed by the yellow horde.'”

Yale, Harvard, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania declined to make admissions officers available for interviews for this story.

Kara Miller helped review applications for Yale as an admissions office reader, and participated in meetings where admissions decisions were made. She says it often felt like Asians were held to a higher standard.

“Asian kids know that when you look at the average SAT for the school, they need to add 50 or 100 to it. If you’re Asian, that’s what you’ll need to get in,” says Miller, now an English professor at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.

Highly selective colleges do use much more than SAT scores and grades to evaluate applicants. Other important factors include extracurricular activities, community service, leadership, maturity, engagement in learning, and overcoming adversity.

Admissions preferences are sometimes given to the children of alumni, the wealthy and celebrities, which is an overwhelmingly white group. Recruited athletes get breaks. Since the top colleges say diversity is crucial to a world-class education, African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders also may get in despite lower scores than other applicants.

A college like Yale “could fill their entire freshman class twice over with qualified Asian students or white students or valedictorians,” says Rosita Fernandez-Rojo, a former college admissions officer who is now director of college counseling at Rye Country Day School outside of New York City.

But applicants are not ranked by results of a qualifications test, she says — “it’s a selection process.”

“People are always looking for reasons they didn’t get in,” she continues. “You can’t always know what those reasons are. Sometimes during the admissions process they say, ‘There’s nothing wrong with that kid. We just don’t have room.'”

In the end, elite colleges often don’t have room for Asian students with outstanding scores and grades.

That’s one reason why Harvard freshman Heather Pickerell, born in Hong Kong to a Taiwanese mother and American father, refused to check any race box on her application.

“I figured it might help my chances of getting in,” she says. “But I figured if Harvard wouldn’t take me for refusing to list my ethnicity, then maybe I shouldn’t go there.”

She considers drawing lines between different ethnic groups a form of racism — and says her ethnic identity depends on where she is.

“In America, I identify more as Asian, having grown up there, and actually being Asian, and having grown up in an Asian family,” she says. “But when I’m back in Hong Kong I feel more American, because everyone there is more Asian than I am.”

Holmes, the Yale sophomore with the Chinese-born mother, also has problems fitting herself into the Asian box — “it doesn’t make sense to me.”

“I feel like an American,” she says, “…an Asian person who grew up in America.”

Susanna Koetter, a Yale junior with an American father and Korean mother, was adamant about identifying her Asian side on her application. Yet she calls herself “not fully Asian-American. I’m mixed Asian-American. When I go to Korea, I’m like, blatantly white.”

And yet, asked whether she would have considered leaving the Asian box blank, she says: “That would be messed up. I’m not white.”

“Identity is very malleable,” says Jasmine Zhuang, a Yale junior whose parents were both born in Taiwan.

She didn’t check the box, even though her last name is a giveaway and her essay was about Asian-American identity.

“Looking back I don’t agree with what I did,” Zhuang says. “It was more like a symbolic action for me, to rebel against the higher standard placed on Asian-American applicants.”

“There’s no way someone’s race can automatically tell you something about them, or represent who they are to an admissions committee,” Zhuang says. “Using race by itself is extremely dangerous.”

Hsu, the physics professor, says that if the current admissions policies continue, it will become more common for Asian students to avoid identifying themselves as such, and schools will have to react.

“They’ll have to decide: A half-Asian kid, what is that? I don’t think they really know.”

The lines are already blurred at Yale, where almost 26,000 students applied for the current freshman class, according to the school’s web site.

About 1,300 students were admitted. Twenty percent of them marked the Asian-American box on their applications; 15 percent of freshmen marked two or more ethnicities.

Ten percent of Yale’s freshmen class did not check a single box.

___

Jesse Washington covers race and ethnicity for The Associated Press. He is reachable at http://www.twitter.com/jessewashington or jwashington(at)ap.org.

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White House Urges Colleges To Get Creative in Improving Racial Diversity at Their Campuses

Obama Administration new guidelines for college admissions JadeLuckClub Jade Luck ClubThe Obama administration has released new guidelines on race and college admissions that turn Bush era policies on its head. Colleges and universities are now getting the green light to use ethnicity to select students for admission and won’t need to fear repercussions in court. What does this mean for Asian Americans? I’m really not sure. It’s a good thing, to me at least, that African-American, Latino-American, and Native Americans will be given more opportunities for admission. If this is coupled with socio-economic status — that is to say, recruiting those who are low income — then you are preaching to the choir.

But, given that there is zero sum gain in the admissions game; more chances for some mean less chances for others, so at what cost will these extra slots come from? One thing is clear: this doesn’t mean that there is a green light to increase the Asian American population at top colleges and universities. And, worse, the opposite might even be true.

p.s. For all the articles on Why You Shouldn’t Check Asian When Applying to Top Colleges and Universities, please go here.

 

U.S. Urges Creativity by Colleges to Gain Diversity

By , Published: December 2, 2011

The Obama administration on Friday urged colleges and universities to get creative in improving racial diversity at their campuses, throwing out a Bush-era interpretation of recent Supreme Court rulings that limited affirmative action in admissions.

The new guidelines issued by the Departments of Justice and Education replaced a 2008 document that essentially warned colleges and universities against considering race at all. Instead, the guidelines focus on the wiggle room in the court decisions involving the University of Michigan, suggesting that institutions use other criteria — students’ socioeconomic profiles, residential instability, the hardships they have overcome — that are often proxies for race. Schools could even grant preferences to students from certain schools selected for, among other things, their racial composition, the new document says.

Post-secondary institutions can voluntarily consider race to further the compelling interest of achieving diversity,” reads the 10-page guide sent to thousands of college admissions officials on Friday afternoon. In some cases, it says, “race can be outcome determinative.”

The administration issued a parallel 14-page outline on Friday for the nation’s 17,000 public school districts, explaining what government lawyers consider to be acceptable ways that educators can seek to reduce racial segregation, which has been increasing nationwide.

The two documents, issued as the presidential campaign heats up and as the Supreme Court considers whether to hear a new affirmative action case, were designed to give educators a clear administration interpretation of three high court cases that, since 2003, have limited the use of race in admissions, zoning and other school policies.

The contrast with the Bush guidelines interpreting the same three cases is stark. Where the Bush administration’s letter in 2008 states, “Quotas are impermissible,” the 2011 version says “an institution may permissibly aim to achieve a critical mass of underrepresented students.” Even in addressing the same principles, the framework is practically reversed.

Bush guidelines: “Before using race, there must be a serious good faith consideration of workable race-neutral alternatives.”

Obama guidelines: “Institutions are not required to implement race-neutral approaches if, in their judgment, the approaches would be unworkable.”

Colleges seeking to increase diversity while not running afoul of Supreme Court guidelines, the new document says, “could select schools (including community colleges) based on their demographics (e.g., their racial or socioeconomic composition), and grant an admission preference” to graduates of those schools. They could also “select high schools for partnership” based, among other things, on “racial composition of the school’s student body” and former partnerships with historically black colleges and universities”; consider race as they select students for mentoring programs; and sponsor retention or support programs that highlight, for example, “the accomplishments of Latino business leaders.”

Ada Meloy, general counsel for the American Council on Education, which represents 1,800 universities and colleges, predicted that educators would immediately begin to pursue ways to draw more racial minorities, as the new guidelines would ease fears of legal challenge.

“University administrators have been confused about how they could follow the court’s rulings and still achieve the benefits of diversity,” Ms. Meloy said. “So they will welcome this practical, step-by-step set of directions.”

For kindergarten through 12th grade, the guidelines tell school districts that they can shape policies on locating schools, drawing attendance boundaries and governing student transfers to achieve a better racial mix. For example, a school district with two elementary schools with distinctly different demographics could consider making one school serve kindergarten through second grade and the other grades 3 to 5 in order to force a better mix.

“Diverse learning environments promote development of analytical skills, dismantle stereotypes and prepare students to succeed in an increasingly interconnected world,”Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement. “The guidance announced today will aid educational institutions in their efforts to provide true equality of opportunity.”

Lee C. Bollinger, an advocate of affirmative action, was the named defendant, as president of the University of Michigan, in the two 2003 Supreme Court cases that laid down new markers on the permissible use of race in admissions. He described the new guidelines as “perfect.”

“It’s a very fair interpretation of what the court decided,” said Mr. Bollinger, a First Amendment scholar who is now president of Columbia University, “which is primarily that race can be one of many factors, and as long as your policies truly embody that approach, you’ll be fine, and can strive for diversity in all its benefits.”

In Grutter v. Bollinger, the court ruled that universities can take race into account as one factor in a broad consideration of students’ traits and qualifications. On the same day, in Gratz v. Bollinger, the high court said Michigan’s undergraduate college had unlawfully made race “a decisive factor for virtually every minimally qualified underrepresented minority applicant.” In a separate case involving the Seattle and Louisville, Ky., districts, the court said in 2007 that it was unlawful to consider the race of individual students directly in assigning them to public schools.

The Supreme Court will soon decide whether to hear a new case, in which a white student has sued the University of Texas, arguing that she was denied admission because of her race. Some legal experts have predicted that the court’s conservative majority could further restrict the use of race in admissions at public universities.

This week, the Department of Education released a report documenting how schools serving low-income students get less state and local money for teacher salaries than schools serving higher-income students.

The administration is making strong policy statements on low-income children and students of color, outlining remedies,” said Bob Wise, a former Democratic governor of West Virginia who heads an education nonprofit organization aimed at improving high school graduation rates. “They seem to be putting some markers down as the election begins,” he said, adding that the new set of guidelines “tries to keep within the letter of the Supreme Court opinions, while probably pushing the spirit.”

 

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Asian Americans and Admissions at Brown University

Brown University Ivy League Discrimination against Asians Asian Americans JadeLuckClub http://JadeLuckClub.comThis is from the horse’s mouth. Ivy League college Brown University and their admissions policies with regard to Asian Americans. If you want to read more on why you shouldn’t identify as Asian American when applying to elite private colleges or grad schools, please go here.

Here are some key quotes:

Only two groups of people believe discrimination is a nuanced issue: racists and college admissions officers. But this characterization is unfair to racists—admissions officers are far worse.To compare, one group openly believes Asian-Americans are inferior. The other, more sinister group, proclaims their allegiance to the highest American ideals while systematically depriving Asians of future avenues for success.

…athletes applying to elite colleges gain 200 points on the (old) SAT, Hispanics gain 185 points, legacy candidates gain 160 points, and blacks have a staggering 230 point advantage.

An important 2004 study by Princeton researchers, Thomas Espenshade and Chang Chung, found that applying to America’s best universities as an Asian-American is equivalent to taking off 50 points from your SAT score.

Because they can’t touch the whites, a “merit tax” is levied on qualified Asian-Americans in order to benefit other, less qualified, minorities. 

 …the study’s finding that affirmative action has little impact on white admission rates comes as a surprise.

 

Asian-Americans in Admissions

By Jason Carr on July 7, 2009

Only two groups of people believe discrimination is a nuanced issue: racists and college admissions officers. But this characterization is unfair to racists—admissions officers are far worse. To compare, one group openly believes Asian-Americans are inferior. The other, more sinister group, proclaims their allegiance to the highest American ideals while systematically depriving Asians of future avenues for success.

Asians are doing too well for their own good, at least in the view of the gatekeepers of the Ivory Tower. Hard working, family oriented students whose ancestors hail from the East have been snapping up coveted spots at the country’s most elite universities at an increasing rate for the past two decades. According to Daniel Golden, author of The Price of Admission, “Asian-Americans constitute only about 4.5% of the U.S. population, they typically account for anywhere from 10% to 30% of students at many of the nation’s elite colleges.” Yet even these impressive numbers represent a deliberate attempt by the colleges to buttress their ivy-covered walls against an Asian Invasion. An important 2004 study by Princeton researchers, Thomas Espenshade and Chang Chung, found that applying to America’s best universities as an Asian-American is equivalent to taking off 50 points from your SAT score.

Why punish success? The guaranteed answer to be heard from admissions directors when asked this difficult question is either a “no comment” or an ambiguous regurgitation of the institution’s supposed anti-discrimination policy. The truth, that Asian-Americans are being used as fodder in an admissions process dogmatically focused on achieving its racist campus image goals, is too embarrassing for these bleeding-heart colleges to admit. The study mentioned above proved that athletes applying to elite colleges gain 200 points on the (old) SAT, Hispanics gain 185 points, legacy candidates gain 160 points, and blacks have a staggering 230 point advantage. The main problem for universities (and especially the Ivies) is that legacies and athletes, both desired admits for their financial benefits, are disproportionately white. Yet, these same universities would also like to make sure that proportionate numbers of blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians are in their classrooms. Because they can’t touch the whites, a “merit tax” is levied on qualified Asian-Americans in order to benefit other, less qualified, minorities. In the most terrifying perversion of “racial justice” seen yet, one minority is being plundered for the sake of another, but the true historical discrimination culprits, whites, remain untouched. Until you realize these underlying motivations, the study’s finding that affirmative action has little impact on white admission rates comes as a surprise.

When admissions officers aren’t making empty statements about their concern for diversity, they have a few other explanations to provide for the lower Asian admit rate. According to one former Brown admission officer:

One of the traits of incoming Asian-American applicant pools is uniformity. There’s a striking similarity from applicant to applicant in terms of the choices they make for extra-curricular activities, for example, or course loads, but most importantly, for intended majors.

There are countless reports of admission officers saying that Asians, due to their incredible academic dedication, are not able to contribute to university life in other ways. It appears that Asians are not trying hard enough to diversify their interests.” After all, according to Brown Dean of Admission James S. Miller, the University works to achieve, “selection by a personal estimate of character on the part of the Admission authorities, based on the probable value to the college and to the community of his admission.”

But the above quote is actually from 1926, and the speaker wasn’t James S. Miller. Rather, the individual who uttered these words was A. Lawrence Lowell, President of Harvard University, that rabidly anti-Semitic institution of yore. As Jerome Karabel, author of The Chosen reveals, Lowell limited the size of the freshman class and imposed new admission criteria of “leadership,” “public spirit,” and “fair play” in order to correct the “Jewish problem” to which Columbia had already succumbed. Jews, stereotyped as overly studious and socially uninterested, were thought not to exhibit any of these qualities (sound familiar?). Yale was even more up front in its battle against the Hebrews: they instituted legacy preferences in 1925 to favor the WASP students they were comfortable with. The Jews were limited so long as legacy preferences and the ambiguous admission criteria stayed, and other elite universities followed in lockstep.

It is a damnable irony that, after the eventual lifting of Jewish quotas, the same admissions preferences used to discriminate against them would be employed against the next most successful group, Asian-Americans. The new “Asian problem” is an especially tricky one for colleges, for they cannot be neatly filed into the “white” category. Colleges are being forced to employ their greatest skills in order to keep the Asians down: stereotyping, discrimination, and rejection.

While it appears that admissions directors believe Asians have a genetic predisposition to studiousness and unsociability, I have a more informed explanation. If Asian students know that they are already being discriminated against, at home and on their college applications, isn’t it rational for them to work that much harder to achieve success in a world biased against them? Asian parents drive their children to spend long hours studying because they know what they are up against. The results of this may be a small lack of social skills, but this is not a result of the student’s race, just his circumstances.

And what of this supposed uniformity in majors and extracurricular activities? Asian-Americans are often recent immigrants, and have a wide distribution of income. Immigrants seek the best ways to prove themselves in a new land; this naturally leads to intense interest in mathematics, physics, biology, and other sciences because these disciplines produce real, quantifiable results that members of an oppressed minority can point to as conclusive evidence of their success. Asian-Americans have excelled in more than just the sciences, however. They are over-represented (despite discrimination) at the nation’s top law and business schools — places that are often the destination of college liberal arts majors.

A case study in alleged uniformity across the Asian applicant pool is provided with UC Berkeley before and after racial preferences were lifted. Berkeley experienced a dramatic increase in the number of Asian-American students in its classrooms – at the moment they constitute 47 percent of the student body – soon after Proposition 209 outlawed affirmative action in California. As it is highly doubtful that Berkeley, the best public university in the United States, filled 47 percent of its class with (according to their racist stereotype) biology majors who play the piano, it can be inferred that many in this group have a passionate interest in history, classics, and other such disciplines, as well as wide extracurricular attainments. The Berkeley case illustrates that the only uniformity that can be seen in Asian-American applicants to colleges is academic excellence across all fields.

The great unspoken crime of Asian-American discrimination in college admissions is not just the obvious numerical limits on the group: American universities are joining a long line of individuals, companies, and governments who have deemed Asians subhuman for centuries. From the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad to Japanese internment camps, America’s Asian relations have not been honorable. Curtailing racist attitudes and stereotypical labeling of Asian-American applicants to college can only be the first step in a long process of atonement. Let us hope that the officers in our esteemed universities do not allow their greed to interfere with their duty as human beings.

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Quotas for Asian American College Applicants? Yes and No

Dr. Ed Chin JadeLuckClub Jade Luck ClubFrom The Washington Post

Ed Chin is the lone voice out there that also is righteously aggrieved about the discrimination against Asian Americans who apply to elite, private colleges. Yes, these applicants are very qualified and apply in droves, yet should this mean that the bar should be raised for a minority “group?” Here’s one point of view about why this is happening. For more posts on Why You Shouldn’t Identify as Asian When Applying to Elite, Private Colleges or Grad Schools, please go here.

I happen to agree with Ed Chin that Affirmative Action is outdated, that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are very different and should not be lumped together as a group, and that admissions assistance should be doled out by socio-economic status NOT by race. What do you think?

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By Jay Mathews

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 25, 2005; 10:12 AM

Asian American applicants to selective colleges appear to be at a disadvantage. Nationally, they have the highest average SAT scores, and yet many African American and Hispanic students with lower scores and grades are accepted to Ivy Leagues schools while high-performing Asian American students are rejected even when their families are similarly poor and undereducated.

My Oct. 12 column (“Should Colleges Have Quotas for Asian Americans?”) discussed this, and I assumed it would attract little comment. Unfairness to that relatively small minority group is almost never mentioned by major news organizations. Outspoken advocates for change, like New Jersey physician Ed Chin who inspired the column, are few in number and mostly ignored.

As Chin noted, the percent of African American and Hispanic students in selective college freshman classes is often higher than the percent of applicants from that group, while the opposite is true of Asian Americans. In 2001, 20.3 percent of applicants to Brown University’s class of 2005 were Asian American, but only 16 percent of the acceptances were. The percent of white applicants and acceptances was about the same, 66 percent, while African Americans comprised 9 percent of the acceptances and only 6 percent of the applicants, and Hispanics had 9 percent of the acceptances and only 7.1 percent of the applicants.But I was wrong. The e-mails poured in, obliging me to share the surprising reaction I received to this overlooked aspect of the affirmative action issue.

Chin is of Chinese descent, and was raised in New York City by low-income, immigrant parents. I thought I would hear from many Asian Americans who supported Chin, while other readers would be skeptical. But I was wrong. Readers of Asian descent were as divided on the issue as everyone else. The clash of race and class, of fairness and equity in this particular debate is so complex that nobody seems to have a predictable reaction, which is fine with me.

Virginia Y. Kim, for instance, is a lawyer in Chicago who grew up in an affluent, suburban Cleveland Korean-American family with what she called “the traditional Asian education ethos.” She said she has heard complaints like Chin’s all her life and her response has always been, “Who said life was fair?”

Huy N. Tran, a San Jose State University student of Vietnamese descent, said he thought it was wrong for Chin to suggest that other cultures do not value education as much as Asian American cultures do. “I have met students of all different cultures who take a full load of classes and work several jobs to pay for their education,” he said.

Anne Soh, a Korean-American Wellesley graduate, said she agreed with Chin that it is theoretically unfair that there is a quota at the top schools that works against Asians. But she said she would not want to attend a college that dispensed with the affirmative action race-balancing policies that Chin and others find so distasteful because part of the learning experience of college is getting to know people from different backgrounds.

On Chin’s side, however, was Arun Mantri, who was born in India and has children at a very selective public school, the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County. He said it was wrong that high-quality Asian students at that school were being rejected by top colleges. “Their chances would improve dramatically if race was not used as a factor in admissions, perhaps at the cost of the white applicants, something that only a few selective schools have dared to do,” he said.

Also supporting Chin’s argument was a member of one of the minority groups that tends to get more of a break in college admissions than Asian Americans do. Paul Grandpierre described himself as “a first generation Haitian American from a really poor family who managed to graduate law school.” He said he thought affirmative action was better than doing nothing about the “inclination of the human heart to rationalize superficial differences into fundamental differences.” But, he said, “I agree with Mr. Chin that today, affirmative action should focus on the poor and not merely on blacks. . . . I can tell you that from my experience that being poor presented more powerful obstacles to my unlikely ascent than being black.”

Chin also had support from non-Hispanic white readers. Jeff Werthan said it was paternalistic and patronizing for me to suggest that “a hard-working and brilliant Asian student and his or her family . . . should be satisfied with the other admittedly good schools out there if they are otherwise deserving of admission to Harvard or Yale.”

A white reader, who declined to let me use his name because he does not want to offend the university that employs him, said his experience as an admissions officer confirms Chin’s sense of unfairness. “What scares the top colleges is what their campuses might look like, racially speaking” if they followed Chin’s suggestion and rejected middle-class African American and Hispanic students in favor of higher-scoring, low-income Asians. They fear, he said, “the sort of intense heat they’d take for the presumed drop in ‘diversity.'”

Chin’s argument does, however, rest upon sophisticated analysis of test scores and a willingness to emphasize averages, rather than the many individual cases that do not support his point. Many readers saw that as a weakness.

Mike Martin, a research analyst with the Arizona School Boards Association, warned Chin against putting so much weight on test scores in determining who is being discriminated against, particularly when looking at the narrow band at the very top of the SAT scale. “So if you accidentally mismark a question, or misconstrue a question, only one question, you could drop out of the 1600 club,” he said. “In W. Edward Deming’s preaching about corporate management he warned about making decisions based on differences that were within normal variation.”

Michael J. McCabe, whose children have attended the challenging D.C. private school, St. Anselm’s Abbey, noted that white kids are also rejected by selective colleges for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of their applications. His older son graduated in the top five of his high school class, had a 1470 SAT, was an Eagle Scout, captain and founder of the school’s Science Bowl team and co-captain of its “It’s Academic” team. Yet he was rejected by Dartmouth, Rice and the University of Virginia. McCabe thinks U-Va. had reached its quota for students from D.C. private schools, not an unreasonable theory given the way such colleges fill their classes.

So now, McCabe said, his son is thriving academically at Carnegie Mellon, but he and his roommate, who is from China, often complain about “the large proportion of Asians in the engineering and computer programs and the limited interaction they have with students of different socioeconomic backgrounds.”

Most of the people who responded to the column appeared sympathetic, however, to Chin’s view that colleges should make less of race in their admissions decisions and look more closely at family income. A student who had overcome difficult circumstances to compile an impressive high school record was likely to appreciate what a great university had to offer.

If the system is to change, and worthy Asian American students are to get what they deserve, they are going to need more advocates than just Ed Chin and the few other civil rights and admissions experts who have raised these issues. Shellye McKinney, a former college admissions officer, said that “affirmative action was created because people fought for it” and those who think it is hurting students of Asian descent are going to have to struggle in the same way to make themselves heard.

As I usually tell Chin when he rails against the American media in general and me in particular for not giving his concerns enough attention, there has to be dramatic evidence of support for his thinking before editors and news directors will get interested. Street demonstrations, boycotts, major conferences, bills in Congress — all those things would help.

The press tends to pay attention to those who are shouting the loudest, and so far the people Chin is trying to help have been very quiet.

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What Ethnic Groups Benefit From Affirmative Action for College Admissions?

What Ethnic Groups benefit from Affirmative Action issues racial fissures JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club

This is a great article that sums up the issues that make Affirmative Action outdated.

  • Asian Americans: Those with Southeast Asian origins tend to be lower income and less educated than their counterparts from South and East Asia, alike. Given this, should a Vietnamese-American college applicant and a Japanese-American college applicant be subject to the same affirmative action policy?
  • African Americans: Among African Americans, class divides exist between blacks native to the United States and foreign-born blacks, with the latter achieving higher incomes and levels of education than the former.
  • Is affirmative action reaching the most vulnerable segments of underrepresented groups?
For more posts on Asian Americans, Affirmative Action, and Admissions Policies, please click here.

 

By About.com Guide

Affirmative action and minorities are often linked, but are the ethnic groups who need it most reaping its benefits in college admissions? A look at how affirmative action plays out among Asian-American and African-American students suggests maybe not.

The Diversity of Asian America

In the educational realm, colleges and universities often exclude Asian Americans from receiving affirmative action benefits. That’s because the racial group is already highly represented on college campuses nationwide. But a closer look at Asian America reveals distinct class divides among its ethnic groups. For instance, those with Southeast Asian origins tend to be lower income and less educated than their counterparts from South and East Asia, alike. Given this, should a Vietnamese-American college applicant and a Japanese-American college applicant be subject to the same affirmative action policy?

The African American Dilemma

Among African Americans, class divides exist between blacks native to the United States and foreign-born blacks, with the latter achieving higher incomes and levels of education than the former. In fact, the U.S. Census indicates that African immigrants to the U.S. are the most highly educated group of people in the entire country. In America’s most elite colleges and universities, the blacks on campus are often immigrants or the children of immigrants. Does this mean affirmative action is failing to serve the descendants of slaves, the group some scholars argue that it was designed to help?

Who Was Affirmative Action Meant to Serve?

How did affirmative action come about, and who was meant to reap its benefits? In the 1950s, civil rights activists successfully challenged segregation in the education, food and transportation realms, to name a few. Due to the thriving Civil Rights Movement, President John Kennedy issued Executive Order 10925 in 1961. The order made reference to “affirmative action” as a means by which to end discrimination. Affirmative action prioritizes the placement of underrepresented groups in sectors from which they were categorically barred in the past, including the workplace and the academy.

Back then, African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans faced a wide range of barriers because of their racial backgrounds-from being forced to live in segregated neighborhoods to being denied adequate medical care and fair access to employment. Because of the pervasive discrimination such groups faced, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was created. It functions, in part, to eliminate employment discrimination. The year after the act passed, President Lyndon Johnson issued Executive Order 11246, which mandated that federal contractors practice affirmative action to develop diversity in the workplace and end race-based discrimination, among other sorts. By the late 1960s, educational institutions were using affirmative action to diversify the nation’s colleges.

How Deep Are Intra-Racial Divides?

Thanks to affirmative action, college campuses have grown more diverse over the years. But is affirmative action reaching the most vulnerable segments of underrepresented groups? Take Harvard, for example. In recent years, the institution has come under fire because such a large number of black students on campus are either immigrants or immigrants’ children. It’s estimated that two-thirds of students there come from families which hail from the Caribbean or Africa, the New York Times reported. Therefore, blacks who have resided in the country for generations, the ones who endured slavery, segregation and other barriers, aren’t reaping the benefits of affirmative action en masse.

Harvard isn’t the only elite institution to see this trend play out. Inside Higher Ed magazine cited a study published in the Sociology of Education which found that selective colleges enroll just 2.4 percent of native black high school graduates but 9.2 percent of immigrant blacks. Another study cited by Inside Higher Ed, published in The American Journal of Education, found that 27 percent of black students at selective colleges are first- or second-generation immigrants. However, this group makes up only 13 percent of all black people between the ages of 18 and 19 in the United States, leaving little doubt that immigrant blacks are over-represented in elite academic institutions.

A large number of Asian Americans are first- or second-generation immigrants, of course. But even in this population, divides exist among native and foreign-born individuals. According to the 2007 American Community Survey of the U.S. Census, just 15 percent of Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders have bachelor’s degrees, and just 4 percent have graduate degrees. Meanwhile, 50 percent of Asian Americans overall have bachelor’s degrees and 20 percent have graduate degrees. While Asian Americans generally are highly educated and well represented on the nation’s college campuses, clearly the indigenous segment of this population is being left behind.

What’s the Solution?

Colleges which seek multicultural student bodies must treat African Americans and Asian Americans as diverse groups and not as homogenous entities. Achieving this requires taking into account an applicant’s specific ethnic background when considering students for admission. If not, America’s intra-racial divides will likely soon rival the nation’s inter-racial fissures.

 

 

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Are Elite Universities Discriminating Against Asians? Yes and No.

Ivy League Asian Americans Discrimination Acceptance how to get in JadeLuckClubFrom CBS Moneywatch.com: Are Elite Universities Discriminating Against Asians? by  Lynn O’Shaughnessy

This is the key point:

  • Not long ago, the issue of “Asian bias” was discussed at a major higher-ed conference and the panelists acknowledged that there could be bias from teachers, counselors and admission officers.
  • At the same time, the experts suggested that many Asians make the college admission process more difficult for themselves by tending to ignore the vast majority of colleges and universities.
Why are we Asian Americans applying to a narrow window of just ‘Top Schools: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Stanford, Northwestern, MIT, Cal Tech  END STOP. That’s crazy. It’s the same narrow reasoning why we also only play classical music and push for “safe careers” as doctors/lawyers/engineers/finance END STOP. It comes from the parents (I know — I’m a parent –) but we, ALL OF US,  need to take a fresh view on this because it’s not only hurting our children’s chances for acceptance but it’s also hurting their mental health.

For all posts on why you should not identify as Asian when applying to college, please click here.

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Are Ivy League schools and other elite universities guilty of an Asian bias?

It’s a natural question to ask based on a new book, No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal:  Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life.

According to Thomas Espenshade, the author and a sociology professor at Princeton, elite private schools are far more likely to reject Asian American applicants than students of other races. The professor discovered that white students were three times more likely to get admitted to an elite school than an Asian applicant.

Espenshade  drew this conclusion after examining the admission records of seven highly elite (unnamed) schools from 1997. While the admission figures are admittedly old, higher-ed observers suggest that these admission patterns are still in place.

This finding will surely bolster the complaint of Asian American students and parents that they unfairly face higher admission hurdles because of discrimination.

Espenshade, however, cautions parents from using his research as a smoking gun. Asians are still attending elite private institutions and flagship state universities, such as  Cal Berkeley,  UCLA and UC-San Diego at far higher numbers than their percentage in the general population, which is less than 5%.

I was curious to see for myself just how high the Asian American concentrations are at a sampling of elite universities so I headed to CollegeBoard.com where I found the following Ivy League statistics:

Percentage of Asian undergraduates

  • Harvard         19%
  • Cornell          18%
  • U. of Pennsylvania  18%
  • Princeton       17%
  • Brown U.        17%
  • Columbia U.   17%
  • Dartmouth     15%
  • Yale               14%

The Asian presence at the University of California system, which is forbidden from using affirmative action, is even greater because the schools rely heavily on grade point averages and class rank:

Percentage of Asian undergraduates

  • UC-Berkeley       42%
  • UCLA                 38%
  • UC-San Diego    49%
  • UC-Irvine           54%
  • UC-Davis           39%

A major reason why top research universities turn away so many bright Asians is because so many of them are applying to the same tiny handful of brand name elite universities. Often a third of the teenagers knocking on these doors are Asian.

Not long ago, the issue of “Asian bias” was discussed at a major higher-ed conference and the panelists acknowledged that there could be bias from teachers, counselors and admission officers. At the same time, the experts suggested that many Asians make the college admission process more difficult for themselves by tending to ignore the vast majority of colleges and universities.

Most schools would love to see more Asian teens apply to their institutions. No matter what a student’s ethnicity is, I’d suggest that it’s often wise to case a wider net.

To view the book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

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How Diversity Punishes Asians, Poor Whites and Lots of Others

Russell K. Nieli professor at Princeton University JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club How Diversity Punishes Asians Poor Whites and other groups

Russell K. Nieli received his Ph.D. in political philosophy from Princeton University and currently works for Princeton’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. He has been a lecturer in Princeton’s Politics Department and for ten years was an academic adviser to Princeton freshmen. This is from Minding the Campus: Reforming Our Universities.

Some interesting quotes:

  • A diverse college campus is understood as one that has a student body that — at a minimum — is 5 to 7 percent black (i.e., equivalent to roughly half the proportion of blacks in the general population).
  • As a secondary meaning “diversity” can also encompass Hispanics, who together with blacks are often subsumed by college administrators and admissions officers under the single race category “underrepresented minorities.”
  • Asians, unlike blacks and Hispanics, receive no boost in admissions. Indeed, the opposite is often the case, as the quota-like mentality that leads college administrators to conclude they may have “too many” Asians.
  • Indeed, there is probably no other area where college administrators are more likely to lie or conceal the truth of what they are doing than in the area of admissions and race.
  • On an “other things equal basis,” where adjustments are made for a variety of background factors, being Hispanic conferred an admissions boost over being white (for those who applied in 1997) equivalent to 130 SAT points (out of 1600), while being black rather than white conferred a 310 SAT point advantage. Asians, however, suffered an admissions penalty compared to whites equivalent to 140 SAT points.
  • Espenshade and Radford also take up very thoroughly the question of “class based preferences” and what they find clearly shows a general disregard for improving the admission chances of poor and otherwise disadvantaged whites.
  •  I suggest a different approach: elite colleges should get out of the diversity business altogether and focus on enrolling students who are the most academically talented and the most eager to learn. These students should make up the bulk of their entering classes. Call it the Cal Tech Model since the California Institute of Technology seems to be the only elite institution that comes close to realizing such an ideal.

For more posts on Why You Shouldn’t Identify as Asian When Applying to College, click here.

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By Russell K. Nieli

When college presidents and academic administrators pay their usual obeisance to “diversity” you know they are talking first and foremost about race. More specifically, they are talking about blacks. A diverse college campus is understood as one that has a student body that — at a minimum — is 5 to 7 percent black (i.e., equivalent to roughly half the proportion of blacks in the general population). A college or university that is only one, two, or three percent black would not be considered “diverse” by college administrators regardless of how demographically diverse its student body might be in other ways. The blacks in question need not be African Americans — indeed at many of the most competitive colleges today, including many Ivy League schools, an estimated 40-50 percent of those categorized as black are Afro-Caribbean or African immigrants, or the children of such immigrants.

As a secondary meaning “diversity” can also encompass Hispanics, who together with blacks are often subsumed by college administrators and admissions officers under the single race category “underrepresented minorities.” Most colleges and universities seeking “diversity” seek a similar proportion of Hispanics in their student body as blacks (since blacks and Hispanics are about equal in number in the general population), though meeting the black diversity goal usually has a much higher priority than meeting the Hispanic one.

Asians, unlike blacks and Hispanics, receive no boost in admissions. Indeed, the opposite is often the case, as the quota-like mentality that leads college administrators to conclude they may have “too many” Asians. Despite the much lower number of Asians in the general high-school population, high-achieving Asian students — those, for instance, with SAT scores in the high 700s — are much more numerous than comparably high-achieving blacks and Hispanics, often by a factor of ten or more. Thinking as they do in racial balancing and racial quota terms, college admissions officers at the most competitive institutions almost always set the bar for admitting Asians far above that for Hispanics and even farther above that for admitting blacks.

 

“Diversity” came to be so closely associated with race in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Bakke decision in 1978. In his decisive opinion, Justice Lewis Powell rejected arguments for racial preferences based on generalized “societal discrimination,” social justice, or the contemporary needs of American society as insufficiently weighty to overrule the color-blind imperative of the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause. That imperative, however, could be overruled, Powell said, by a university’s legitimate concern for the educational benefits of a demographically diverse student body.

Virtually all competitive colleges after Bakke continued with their racial preference policies (“affirmative action”), though after Powell’s decision they had to cloak their true meaning and purpose behind a misleading or dishonest rhetoric of “diversity.” Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, a critic of racial preferences, accurately explains the situation: “The raison d’etre for race-specific affirmative action programs,” Dershowitz writes, “has simply never been diversity for the sake of education. The checkered history of ‘diversity’ demonstrates that it was designed largely as a cover to achieve other legally, morally, and politically controversial goals. In recent years, it has been invoked — especially in the professional schools — as a clever post facto justification for increasing the number of minority group students in the student body.”

While almost all college administrators and college admissions officers at the most elite institutions think in racial balancing and racial quota-like terms when they assemble their student body, they almost always deny this publically in a blizzard of rhetoric about a more far-flung “diversity.” Indeed, there is probably no other area where college administrators are more likely to lie or conceal the truth of what they are doing than in the area of admissions and race.

Most elite universities seem to have little interest in diversifying their student bodies when it comes to the numbers of born-again Christians from the Bible belt, students from Appalachia and other rural and small-town areas, people who have served in the U.S. military, those who have grown up on farms or ranches, Mormons, Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, lower-middle-class Catholics, working class “white ethnics,” social and political conservatives, wheelchair users, married students, married students with children, or older students first starting out in college after raising children or spending several years in the workforce. Students in these categories are often very rare at the more competitive colleges, especially the Ivy League. While these kinds of people would surely add to the diverse viewpoints and life-experiences represented on college campuses, in practice “diversity” on campus is largely a code word for the presence of a substantial proportion of those in the “underrepresented” racial minority groups.

The Diversity Colleges Want

espenshade.jpgA new study by Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade and his colleague Alexandria Radford is a real eye-opener in revealing just what sorts of students highly competitive colleges want — or don’t want — on their campuses and how they structure their admissions policies to get the kind of “diversity” they seek. The Espenshade/Radford study draws from a new data set, the National Study of College Experience (NSCE), which was gathered from eight highly competitive public and private colleges and universities (entering freshmen SAT scores: 1360). Data was collected on over 245,000 applicants from three separate application years, and over 9,000 enrolled students filled out extensive questionnaires. Because of confidentiality agreements Espenshade and Radford could not name the institutions but they assure us that their statistical profile shows they fit nicely within the top 50 colleges and universities listed in the U.S. News & World Report ratings.

Consistent with other studies, though in much greater detail, Espenshade and Radford show the substantial admissions boost, particularly at the private colleges in their study, which Hispanic students get over whites, and the enormous advantage over whites given to blacks. They also show how Asians must do substantially better than whites in order to reap the same probabilities of acceptance to these same highly competitive private colleges. On an “other things equal basis,” where adjustments are made for a variety of background factors, being Hispanic conferred an admissions boost over being white (for those who applied in 1997) equivalent to 130 SAT points (out of 1600), while being black rather than white conferred a 310 SAT point advantage. Asians, however, suffered an admissions penalty compared to whites equivalent to 140 SAT points.

The box students checked off on the racial question on their application was thus shown to have an extraordinary effect on a student’s chances of gaining admission to the highly competitive private schools in the NSCE database. To have the same chances of gaining admission as a black student with an SAT score of 1100, an Hispanic student otherwise equally matched in background characteristics would have to have a 1230, a white student a 1410, and an Asian student a 1550. Here the Espenshade/Radford results are consistent with other studies, including those of William Bowen and Derek Bok in their book The Shape of the River, though they go beyond this influential study in showing both the substantial Hispanic admissions advantage and the huge admissions penalty suffered by Asian applicants. Although all highly competitive colleges and universities will deny that they have racial quotas — either minimum quotas or ceiling quotas — the huge boosts they give to the lower-achieving black and Hispanic applicants, and the admissions penalties they extract from their higher-achieving Asian applicants, clearly suggest otherwise.

Espenshade and Radford also take up very thoroughly the question of “class based preferences” and what they find clearly shows a general disregard for improving the admission chances of poor and otherwise disadvantaged whites. Other studies, including a 2005 analysis of nineteen highly selective public and private universities by William Bowen, Martin Kurzweil, and Eugene Tobin, in their 2003 book, Equity and Excellence in American Higher Education, found very little if any advantage in the admissions process accorded to whites from economically or educationally disadvantaged families compared to whites from wealthier or better educated homes. Espenshade and Radford cite this study and summarize it as follows: “These researchers find that, for non-minority [i.e., white] applicants with the same SAT scores, there is no perceptible difference in admission chances between applicants from families in the bottom income quartile, applicants who would be the first in their families to attend college, and all other (non-minority) applicants from families at higher levels of socioeconomic status. When controls are added for other student and institutional characteristics, these authors find that “on an other-things-equal basis, [white] applicants from low-SES backgrounds, whether defined by family income or parental education, get essentially no break in the admissions process; they fare neither better nor worse than other [white] applicants.”

Distressing as many might consider this to be — since the same institutions that give no special consideration to poor white applicants boast about their commitment to “diversity” and give enormous admissions breaks to blacks, even to those from relatively affluent homes — Espenshade and Radford in their survey found the actual situation to be much more troubling. At the private institutions in their study whites from lower-class backgrounds incurred a huge admissions disadvantage not only in comparison to lower-class minority students, but compared to whites from middle-class and upper-middle-class backgrounds as well. The lower-class whites proved to be all-around losers. When equally matched for background factors (including SAT scores and high school GPAs), the better-off whites were more than three times as likely to be accepted as the poorest whites (.28 vs. .08 admissions probability). Having money in the family greatly improved a white applicant’s admissions chances, lack of money greatly reduced it. The opposite class trend was seen among non-whites, where the poorer the applicant the greater the probability of acceptance when all other factors are taken into account. Class-based affirmative action does exist within the three non-white ethno-racial groupings, but among the whites the groups advanced are those with money.

When lower-class whites are matched with lower-class blacks and other non-whites the degree of the non-white advantage becomes astronomical: lower-class Asian applicants are seven times as likely to be accepted to the competitive private institutions as similarly qualified whites, lower-class Hispanic applicants eight times as likely, and lower-class blacks ten times as likely. These are enormous differences and reflect the fact that lower-class whites were rarely accepted to the private institutions Espenshade and Radford surveyed. Their diversity-enhancement value was obviously rated very low.

Poor Non-White Students: “Counting Twice”

The enormous disadvantage incurred by lower-class whites in comparison to non-whites and wealthier whites is partially explained by Espenshade and Radford as a result of the fact that, except for the very wealthiest institutions like Harvard and Princeton, private colleges and universities are reluctant to admit students who cannot afford their high tuitions. And since they have a limited amount of money to give out for scholarship aid, they reserve this money to lure those who can be counted in their enrollment statistics as diversity-enhancing “racial minorities.” Poor whites are apparently given little weight as enhancers of campus diversity, while poor non-whites count twice in the diversity tally, once as racial minorities and a second time as socio-economically deprived. Private institutions, Espenshade and Radford suggest, “intentionally save their scarce financial aid dollars for students who will help them look good on their numbers of minority students.” Quoting a study by NYU researcher Mitchell Stevens, they write: “ultimate evaluative preference for members of disadvantaged groups was reserved for applicants who could be counted in the college’s multicultural statistics. This caused some admissions officers no small amount of ethical dismay.”

There are problems, however, with this explanation. While it explains why scarce financial aid dollars might be reserved for minority “twofers,” it cannot explain why well-qualified lower-class whites are not at least offered admission without financial aid. The mere offer of admission is costless, and at least a few among the poor whites accepted would probably be able to come up with outside scholarship aid. But even if they couldn’t, knowing they did well enough in their high school studies to get accepted to a competitive private college would surely sit well with most of them even if they couldn’t afford the high tuition. Espenshade and Radford do not address this conundrum but the answer is easy to discern. The ugly truth is that most colleges, especially the more competitive private ones, are fiercely concerned with their ratings by rating organizations like U.S. News & World Report. And an important part of those ratings consist of a numerical acceptance rate (the ratio of applicants received to those accepted) and a yield score (the ratio of those accepted to those who enroll). The lower the acceptance rate and the higher the yield score the more favorably colleges are looked upon. In extending admissions to well-qualified but financially strapped whites who are unlikely to enroll, a college would be driving both its acceptance rate and its yield score in the wrong direction. Academic bureaucrats rarely act against either their own or their organization’s best interests (as they perceive them), and while their treatment of lower-class whites may for some be a source of “no small amount of ethical dismay,” that’s just how it goes. Some of the private colleges Espenshade and Radford describe would do well to come clean with their act and admit the truth: “Poor Whites Need Not Apply!”

Besides the bias against lower-class whites, the private colleges in the Espenshade/Radford study seem to display what might be called an urban/Blue State bias against rural and Red State occupations and values. This is most clearly shown in a little remarked statistic in the study’s treatment of the admissions advantage of participation in various high school extra-curricular activities. In the competitive private schools surveyed participation in many types of extra-curricular activities — including community service activities, performing arts activities, and “cultural diversity” activities — conferred a substantial improvement in an applicant’s chances of admission. The admissions advantage was usually greatest for those who held leadership positions or who received awards or honors associated with their activities. No surprise here — every student applying to competitive colleges knows about the importance of extracurriculars.

But what Espenshade and Radford found in regard to what they call “career-oriented activities” was truly shocking even to this hardened veteran of the campus ideological and cultural wars. Participation in such Red State activities as high school ROTC, 4-H clubs, or the Future Farmers of America was found to reduce very substantially a student’s chances of gaining admission to the competitive private colleges in the NSCE database on an all-other-things-considered basis. The admissions disadvantage was greatest for those in leadership positions in these activities or those winning honors and awards. “Being an officer or winning awards” for such career-oriented activities as junior ROTC, 4-H, or Future Farmers of America, say Espenshade and Radford, “has a significantly negative association with admission outcomes at highly selective institutions.” Excelling in these activities “is associated with 60 or 65 percent lower odds of admission.”

Espenshade and Radford don’t have much of an explanation for this find, which seems to place the private colleges even more at variance with their stated commitment to broadly based campus diversity. In his Bakke ruling Lewis Powell was impressed by the argument Harvard College offered defending the educational value of a demographically diverse student body: “A farm boy from Idaho can bring something to Harvard College that a Bostonian cannot offer. Similarly, a black student can usually bring something that a white person cannot offer.” The Espenshade/Radford study suggests that those farm boys from Idaho would do well to stay out of their local 4-H clubs or FFA organizations — or if they do join, they had better not list their membership on their college application forms. This is especially true if they were officers in any of these organizations. Future farmers of America don’t seem to count in the diversity-enhancement game played out at some of our more competitive private colleges, and are not only not recruited, but seem to be actually shunned. It is hard to explain this development other than as a case of ideological and cultural bias.

This same kind of bias seems to lurk behind the negative association found between acceptance odds and holding leadership positions in high school ROTC. This is most troubling because a divorce between the campus culture of its universities and its military is poisonous for any society, and doesn’t do the military or the civilian society any good. The lack of comfort with many military commanders that our current president is said to have seems to be due not only to his own lack of military experience but to the fact of having spent so many of his formative years on university campuses like Harvard, Columbia, and the University of Chicago, where people with military experience are largely absent and the campus culture is often hostile to military values and military personnel.

In an attempt to find out what kind of diversity exists — or doesn’t exist — on the Princeton University campus, I once asked students in a ten-member discussion group to raise their hands if they knew one or more Princeton undergraduates who had served a year or more on active military duty (in the late 1940s or early 1950s, of course, undergraduates at Princeton would have encountered legions of such people coming back from WWII and the Korean War). I made it plain that I wasn’t asking if the students had a close friend or roommate who was a veteran, just a single person with military experience that they had at sometime encountered during their Princeton undergraduate careers. Only one student — a female — raised her hand: this student once met someone who had served in the Israeli military. On a second occasion I asked this question to a larger group and again only one hand went up — this student once met a Princeton undergraduate who had served in the Turkish military.

Many universities, including Princeton, are interested in enrolling foreign students, along with students from disparate regions of the U.S. But the more competitive private universities seem to have little interest in diversifying their student bodies when it comes to people who have served in the American military or people who intend to make a career out of military service. Even if they don’t shun such people, or hold their military service or aspirations against them, they clearly don’t seek them out or court them the way they do “underrepresented” racial minorities. And while many universities host college-level ROTC programs (often for financial reasons), the military/civilian relationship on campus is usually far from amicable.

Military veterans and aspiring military officers, like poor whites and future American farmers, are clearly not what most competitive private colleges have in mind when they speak of the need for “diversity”. If nothing else the new Espenshade/Radford study helps to document what knowledgeable observers have long known: “diversity” at competitive colleges today involves a politically engineered stew of different groups. drawn from the ingredients selected by reigning campus ideology. Since that ideology is mainly dictated by the Left, it is no surprise that the diversity achieved is what the larger American landscape looks like when it is viewed through a leftist lens. I suggest a different approach: elite colleges should get out of the diversity business altogether and focus on enrolling students who are the most academically talented and the most eager to learn. These students should make up the bulk of their entering classes. Call it the Cal Tech Model since the California Institute of Technology seems to be the only elite institution that comes close to realizing such an ideal. Or call it the U.S. Olympic Team Model, or the Major League All-Stars Model, since it is based on the same strict merit-selection principle governing our Olympic sports teams and our major league baseball all-star teams. Let the diversity chips fall where they may and focus on recruiting the most intelligent, most creative, and most energetiic of the rising generation of young people. In my naive way this is what I always thought elite universities were supposed to be about.

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Call to Arms for Asian American College Applicants: Civil Rights Class Action Law Suit for College Rejection

Asian Americans rejected in reverse discrimination JadeLuckClub class action civil law suitI found this here:

Did you receive a college reject letter?
Are you Asian American?
Did the college accept a non-Asian American student with lower test scores and grades than yours?
Don’t get mad, get even.
File a civil rights complaint against the college.
You will need the names of the non-Asian American students, their test scores and grade point averages and some indication they are lower than yours (e.g. class rank, honors, etc.).
If you have any questions after reviewing the Office of Civil Rights form, contact the webmaster at d33j at yahoo.com and we will refer you to a volunteer attorney.

Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20202-1100
1-800-421-3481
FAX: (202) 245-6840; TODD: (877) 521-2172


Online complaint form: http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/complaintintro.html
E-mail: OCR@ed.gov
How to file a complaint: http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/howto.html?src=rt

I found this fascinating after posting on this same topic.

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Stats for Top Medical and Law Schools on Scores and Grades by Race

The College Admissions Game JadeLuckClub Stats for Top Medical Law Schools on Scores and Ethnicity Race Jade Luck Club I believe in racial diversity at college and graduate programs but I’ve heard quite a lot of flack that admissions is not based just on scores and grades. Well,  here’s the facts: stats on grades and score parameters by race.

Highlights here:

  •  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.
  •  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?
  • 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).
  • 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.
p.s. Here’s another essay by Russell Nieli, How Diversity Punishes Asians, Poor Whites, and Lots of Others
p.p.s. For all posts on Don’t Identify as Asian When Applying to College (or Graduate School), click here.
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Selling Merit Down the River
By Russell K. Nieli

Author photo

 

 

 

7/6/09
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 medicalschool 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-intwenty, 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?

 

Russell K. Nieli is a lecturer in Princeton University’s politics department. Author of an important study of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, he has written numerous articles on public policy topics and edited an anthology of writings on affirmative action. Nieli graduated summa cum laude from Duke University, received his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1970, and taught at several colleges before returning to Princeton. He is the author of a paper published by the Pope Center in March 2007, “The Decline and Revival of Liberal Learning at Duke: The Focus and Gerst Programs.”

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