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A Racist Bake Sale at U.C. Berkeley

racist bake sale U.C. Berkeley UC Berkeley JadeLuckClub Don't identify as Asian when applying to collegeAnother racist bake sale at U. C. Berkeley. These prices are different from the one at Bucknell :

UC Berkeley: white men for $2, Asian men for $1.50, Latino men for $1, black men for 75 cents and Native American men for 25 cents. All women will get 25 cents off those prices.

Bucknell: Asians — $1.50, Whites — $1.00, Blacks/Latinos — 50 cents

There’s a lot at stake here given the new legislation pending in California. What do you think? Should racist bake sales be allowed as part of freedom of speech? And if so, what should the pricing be?

p.s. For all the posts on being Asian American and applying to college, please click here.

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(CNN) — It’s meant to be racist, and it’s meant to be discriminatory.

And the controversial “Increase Diversity Bake Sale” hosted by the Berkeley College Republicans is still on, the club’s president said, despite “grossly misguided comments” and threats aimed at supporters of the University of California, Berkeley, student group.

During the sale, scheduled for Tuesday, baked goods will be sold to white men for $2, Asian men for $1.50, Latino men for $1, black men for 75 cents and Native American men for 25 cents. All women will get 25 cents off those prices.

The bake sale is meant to draw attention to pending legislation that would allow California universities to consider race, gender, ethnicity and national origin during the admissions process.

“We agree that the event is inherently racist, but that is the point,” BCR President Shawn Lewis wrote in response to upheaval over the bake sale. “It is no more racist than giving an individual an advantage in college admissions based solely on their race (or) gender.”

Similar events have been held at other colleges across the country, generally organized by college Republican groups. In some cases — such as at Berkeley — the plan sparked controversy and protests.

Other times, university officials stepped in.

At Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, officials shut down one of the bake sales on campus. Officials at The College of William and Mary in Virginia cut off a cookie sale, saying they were “shocked and appalled.”

The University of California, Irvine, shut down a bake sale on campus, saying it was discriminatory. A bake sale at Southern Methodist University in Texas was shut down after 45 minutes because of what officials called an “unsafe environment,” according to local reports.

Lewis said the bake sale at Berkeley was unanimously agreed upon by the club, whose leadership includes Asian and Hispanic students and whose membership represents a “wide variety of ethnic backgrounds.”

“More than half of the voices were female,” he added.

Berkeley’s student government, the Associated Students of the University of California, held an emergency Senate meeting late Sunday to discuss the issue and passed a resolution that, in part, “condemns the use of discrimination whether it is in satire or in seriousness by any student group.”

“I completely support the idea of BCR — or any students on campus — (having) political discussion,” ASUC President Vishalli Loomba said. “I think student members of BCR have a full right to express their feelings, but I don’t necessarily think this tactic is constructive. I strongly encourage them to engage in this dialogue in a more constructive manner, such as a forum or a town hall meeting.’

But the bake sale is intended to be a direct, “physical counterpoint” to an ASUC-sponsored phone bank — also scheduled for Tuesday — during which students will be encouraged to call Gov. Jerry Brown’s office to support the legislation, Lewis said. The ASUC has endorsed the legislation, SB 185.

Lewis said supporters of the bake sale have received threats, including people who said they will “stop by the table only to knock it over” or “buy a cupcake just to throw it at (us).”

“Some of the threats online have gotten more specific, but we’re hoping that’s just emotion,” he said.

While the initial feedback to the planned sale was largely in heated opposition, responses have “plateaued” and include the support of self-described Democrats, Lewis said.

Loomba, the student government president, said she is concerned about students potentially feeling ostracized due to the bake sale.

“I have heard that from numerous students who have said this makes students feel unwelcome on campus,” she said. “For that reason alone, we should think about what events we have on campus.”

Loomba described the situation as a “campus climate issue.”

“UC Berkeley stands for a place where everyone — regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation — should feel inclusive,” she said. “I think they should be able to express their opinion, but keep that value in mind.”

As for where the bake sale proceeds will go, Lewis said the College Republicans are considering several charities.

But “because of all this controversy, we don’t want to advertise the organization,” he said. “We don’t want to cause them problems.”

 

 

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U.C. Berkeley: Little Asia on the Hill. Where is the Diversity?

UC Berkeley LIttle Asia on the Hill New York Times JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club

  • This fall and last, the number of Asian freshmen at Berkeley has been at a record high, about 46 percent.
  • What is troubling to some is that the big public school on the hill certainly does not look like the ethnic face of California, which is 12 percent Asian, more than twice the national average. But it is the new face of the state’s vaunted public university system. Asians make up the largest single ethnic group, 37 percent, at its nine undergraduate campuses.
  • In California, the rise of the Asian campus, of the strict meritocracy, has come at the expense of historically underrepresented blacks and Hispanics. This year, in a class of 4809, there are only 100 black freshmen at the University of California at Los Angeles — the lowest number in 33 years. At Berkeley, 3.6 percent of freshmen are black, barely half the statewide proportion. (In 1997, just before the full force of Proposition 209 went into effect, the proportion of black freshmen matched the state population, 7 percent.) The percentage of Hispanic freshmen at Berkeley (11 percent) is not even a third of the state proportion (35 percent). White freshmen (29 percent) are also below the state average (44 percent).
  • Asians at Berkeley in at least one way: they are predominantly first-generation American. About 95 percent of Asian freshmen come from a family in which one or both parents were born outside the United States.
  • ACROSS the United States, at elite private and public universities, Asian enrollment is near an all-time high. Asian-Americans make up less than 5 percent of the population but typically make up 10 to 30 percent of students at the nation’s best colleges:in 2005, the last year with across-the-board numbers, Asians made up 24 percent of the undergraduate population at Carnegie Mellon and at Stanford, 27 percent at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 14 percent at Yale and 13 percent at Princeton.
  • Today, he [Daniel Golden] writes, “Asian-Americans are the odd group out, lacking racial preferences enjoyed by other minorities and the advantages of wealth and lineage mostly accrued by upper-class whites. Asians are typecast in college admissions offices as quasi-robots programmed by their parents to ace math and science.”
  • As if to illustrate the point, a study released in October by the Center for Equal Opportunity, an advocacy group opposing race-conscious admissions, showed that in 2005 Asian-Americans were admitted to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, at a much lower rate (54 percent) than black applicants (71 percent) and Hispanic applicants (79 percent) — despite median SAT scores that were 140 points higher than Hispanics and 240 points higher than blacks.
  • Asian enrollment at his (UC Berkeley) campus actually began to ramp up well before affirmative action was banned.
  • In November, the United States Supreme Court heard a case questioning the legality of using race in assigning students to public schools in Seattle and Louisville, Ky. Voters are also sending a message, having thrown out racial preferences in Michigan in November, following a lead taken by California, Texas, Florida and Washington. Last month, Ward Connerly, the architect of Proposition 209, announced his next potential targets for a ballot initiative, including Arizona, Colorado, Missouri and Nebraska.
  • “We shouldn’t be calling these studying habits that help so many kids get into good schools ‘Asian values,’ ” says Mr. Liu, himself a product of Yale College and Harvard Law School. “These are values that used to be called Jewish values or Anglo-Saxon work-ethic values. The bottom line message from the family is the same: work hard, defer gratification, share sacrifice and focus on the big goal.”
  • Chancellor Birgeneau says he finds the low proportion of blacks and Hispanics appalling, and two years into his tenure, he has not found a remedy. To broaden the pool, the U.C. system promises to admit the top 4 percent at each high school in the state and uses “comprehensive review” — considering an applicant’s less quantifiable attributes. But the net results for a campus like Berkeley are disappointing. His university, Dr. Birgeneau says, loses talented black applicants to private universities like Stanford, where African-American enrollment was 10 percent last year — nearly three times that at Berkeley.
What do you think of the ethnicity make up of UC Berkeley? Is it too Asian? Ask a Korean thinks that red lining Asians may be a good thing (gasp!). All my posts on Don’t Identify as Asian When Applying to College are here.
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Published: January 7, 2007, New York Times

By TIMOTHY EGAN

WHEN Jonathan Hu was going to high school in suburban Southern California, he rarely heard anyone speaking Chinese. But striding through campus on his way to class at the University of California, Berkeley, Mr. Hu hears Mandarin all the time, in plazas, cafeterias, classrooms, study halls, dorms and fast-food outlets. It is part of the soundtrack at this iconic university, along with Cantonese, English, Spanish and, of course, the perpetual jackhammers from the perpetual construction projects spurred by the perpetual fund drives.

Too Many? Not Enough? Some say Asian-Americans are being denied spots at top colleges to keep their numbers in check (Asians make up 5 percent of the population). [*Actually 5.6%.] Click for percentages of Asian undergraduates at selected colleges.

Education Life

“Here, many people speak Chinese as their primary language,” says Mr. Hu, a sophomore. “It’s nice. You really feel like you don’t stand out.”

Today, he is iPod-free, a rare condition on campus, taking in the early winter sun at the dour concrete plaza of the Free Speech Movement Cafe, named for the protests led by Mario Savio in 1964, when the administration tried to muzzle political activity. “Free speech marks us off from the stones and stars,” reads a Savio quote on the cafe wall, “just below the angels.”

There are now mostly small protests, against the new chain stores invading Telegraph Avenue, just outside the campus entrance, and to save the old oak trees scheduled for removal so the football stadium can be renovated. The biggest buzz on Telegraph one week was the grand opening of a chain restaurant — the new Chipotle’s, which drew a crowd of students eager to get in. The scent of patchouli oil and reefer is long gone; the street is posted as a drug-free zone.

And at least on this morning, there is very little speech of any kind inside the Free Speech Cafe; almost without exception, students are face-planted in their laptops, silently downloading class notes, music, messages. It could be the library but for the line for lattes. On mornings like this, the public university beneath the towering campanile seems like a small, industrious city of über-students in flops.

I ask Mr. Hu what it’s like to be on a campus that is overwhelmingly Asian — what it’s like to be of the demographic moment. This fall and last, the number of Asian freshmen at Berkeley has been at a record high, about 46 percent. The overall undergraduate population is 41 percent Asian. On this golden campus, where a creek runs through a redwood grove, there are residence halls with Asian themes; good dim sum is never more than a five-minute walk away; heaping, spicy bowls of pho are served up in the Bear’s Lair cafeteria; and numerous social clubs are linked by common ancestry to countries far across the Pacific.

Mr. Hu shrugs, saying there is a fair amount of “selective self-racial segregation,” which is not unusual at a university this size: about 24,000 undergraduates. “The different ethnic groups don’t really interact that much,” he says. “There’s definitely a sense of sticking with your community.” But, he quickly adds, “People of my generation don’t look at race as that big of a deal. People here, the freshmen and sophomores, they’re pretty much like your average American teenagers.”

Spend a few days at Berkeley, on the classically manicured slope overlooking San Francisco Bay and the distant Pacific, and soon enough the sound of foreign languages becomes less distinct. This is a global campus in a global age. And more than any time in its history, it looks toward the setting sun for its identity.

The revolution at Berkeley is a quiet one, a slow turning of the forces of immigration and demographics. What is troubling to some is that the big public school on the hill certainly does not look like the ethnic face of California, which is 12 percent Asian, more than twice the national average. But it is the new face of the state’s vaunted public university system. Asians make up the largest single ethnic group, 37 percent, at its nine undergraduate campuses.

The oft-cited goal of a public university is to be a microcosm — in this case, of the nation’s most populous, most demographically dynamic state — and to enrich the educational experience with a variety of cultures, economic backgrounds and viewpoints.

But 10 years after California passed Proposition 209, voting to eliminate racial preferences in the public sector, university administrators find such balance harder to attain. At the same time, affirmative action is being challenged on a number of new fronts, in court and at state ballot boxes. And elite colleges have recently come under attack for practicing it — specifically, for bypassing highly credentialed Asian applicants in favor of students of color with less stellar test scores and grades.

In California, the rise of the Asian campus, of the strict meritocracy, has come at the expense of historically underrepresented blacks and Hispanics. This year, in a class of 4809, there are only 100 black freshmen at the University of California at Los Angeles — the lowest number in 33 years. At Berkeley, 3.6 percent of freshmen are black, barely half the statewide proportion. (In 1997, just before the full force of Proposition 209 went into effect, the proportion of black freshmen matched the state population, 7 percent.) The percentage of Hispanic freshmen at Berkeley (11 percent) is not even a third of the state proportion (35 percent). White freshmen (29 percent) are also below the state average (44 percent).

This is in part because getting into Berkeley — U.S. News & World Report’s top-ranked public university — has never been more daunting. There were 41,750 applicants for this year’s freshman class of 4,157. Nearly half had a weighted grade point average of 4.0 or better (weighted for advanced courses). There is even grumbling from “the old Blues” — older alumni named for the school color — “who complain because their kids can’t get in,” says Gregg Thomson, director of the Office of Student Research.

Mr. Hu applied to a lot of colleges, but Berkeley felt right for him from the start. “It’s the intellectual atmosphere — this place is intense.”

Mr. Hu says he was pressured by a professor to go into something like medicine or engineering. “It’s a stereotype, but a lot of Asians who come here just study engineering and the sciences,” he says. “I was never interested in that.”

But as the only son of professionals born in China, Mr. Hu fits the profile of Asians at Berkeley in at least one way: they are predominantly first-generation American. About 95 percent of Asian freshmen come from a family in which one or both parents were born outside the United States.

He dashes off to class, and I wander through the serene setting of Memorial Glade, in the center of campus, and then loop over to Sproul Plaza, the beating heart of the university, where dozens of tables are set up by clubs representing every conceivable ethnic group. Out of nowhere, an a cappella group, mostly Asian men, appears and starts singing a Beach Boys song. Yes, tradition still matters in California.

ACROSS the United States, at elite private and public universities, Asian enrollment is near an all-time high. Asian-Americans make up less than 5 percent of the population but typically make up 10 to 30 percent of students at the nation’s best colleges:in 2005, the last year with across-the-board numbers, Asians made up 24 percent of the undergraduate population at Carnegie Mellon and at Stanford, 27 percent at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 14 percent at Yale and 13 percent at Princeton.

And according to advocates of race-neutral admissions policies, those numbers should be even higher.

Asians have become the “new Jews,” in the phrase of Daniel Golden, whose recent book, “The Price of Admission: How America’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way Into Elite Colleges — and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates,” is a polemic against university admissions policies. Mr. Golden, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, is referring to evidence that, in the first half of the 20th century, Ivy League schools limited the number of Jewish students despite their outstanding academic records to maintain the primacy of upper-class Protestants. Today, he writes, “Asian-Americans are the odd group out, lacking racial preferences enjoyed by other minorities and the advantages of wealth and lineage mostly accrued by upper-class whites. Asians are typecast in college admissions offices as quasi-robots programmed by their parents to ace math and science.”

As if to illustrate the point, a study released in October by the Center for Equal Opportunity, an advocacy group opposing race-conscious admissions, showed that in 2005 Asian-Americans were admitted to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, at a much lower rate (54 percent) than black applicants (71 percent) and Hispanic applicants (79 percent) — despite median SAT scores that were 140 points higher than Hispanics and 240 points higher than blacks.

To force the issue on a legal level, a freshman at Yale filed a complaint in the fall with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, contending he was denied admission to Princeton because he is Asian. The student, Jian Li, the son of Chinese immigrants in Livingston, N.J., had a perfect SAT score and near-perfect grades, including numerous Advanced Placement courses.

“This is just a very, very egregious system,” Mr. Li told me. “Asians are held to different standards simply because of their race.”

To back his claim, he cites a 2005 study by Thomas J. Espenshade and Chang Y. Chung, both of Princeton, which concludes that if elite universities were to disregard race, Asians would fill nearly four of five spots that now go to blacks or Hispanics. Affirmative action has a neutral effect on the number of whites admitted, Mr. Li is arguing, but it raises the bar for Asians. The way Princeton selects its entering class, Mr. Li wrote in his complaint, “seems to be a calculated move by a historically white institution to protect its racial identity while at the same time maintaining a facade of progressivism.”

Private institutions can commit to affirmative action, even with state bans, but federal money could be revoked if they are found to be discriminating. Mr. Li is seeking suspension of federal financial assistance to Princeton. “I’m not seeking anything personally,” he says. “I’m happy at Yale. But I grew up thinking that in America race should not matter.”

Admissions officials have long denied that they apply quotas. Nonetheless, race is important “to ensure a diverse student body,” says Cass Cliatt, a Princeton spokeswoman. But, she adds, “Looking at the merits of race is not the same as the opposite” — discrimination.

Elite colleges like Princeton review the “total package,” in her words, looking at special talents, extracurricular interests and socioeconomics — factors like whether the applicant is the first in the family to go to college or was raised by a single mother. “There’s no set formula or standard for how we evaluate students,” she says. High grades and test scores would seem to be merely a baseline. “We turned away approximately half of applicants with maximum scores on the SAT, all three sections,” Ms. Cliatt says of the class Mr. Li would have joined.

In the last two months, the nation has seen a number of new challenges to racial engineering in schools. In November, the United States Supreme Court heard a case questioning the legality of using race in assigning students to public schools in Seattle and Louisville, Ky. Voters are also sending a message, having thrown out racial preferences in Michigan in November, following a lead taken by California, Texas, Florida and Washington. Last month, Ward Connerly, the architect of Proposition 209, announced his next potential targets for a ballot initiative, including Arizona, Colorado, Missouri and Nebraska.

When I ask the chancellor at Berkeley, Robert J. Birgeneau, if there is a perfect demographic recipe on this campus that likes to think of itself as the world’s finest public university — Harvard on the Hill — he demurs.

“We are a meritocracy,” he says. And — by law, he adds — the campus is supposed to be that way. If Asians made up, say, 70 percent of the campus, he insists, there would still be no attempt to reduce their numbers.

Asian enrollment at his campus actually began to ramp up well before affirmative action was banned.

Historically, Asians have faced discrimination, with exclusion laws in the 1800s that kept them from voting, owning property or legally immigrating. Many were run out of West Coast towns by mobs. But by the 1970s and ’80s, with a change in immigration laws, a surge in Asian arrivals began to change the complexion of California, and it was soon reflected in an overrepresentation at its top universities.

In the late 1980s, administrators appeared to be limiting Asian-American admissions, prompting a federal investigation. The result was an apology by the chancellor at the time, and a vow that there would be no cap on Asian enrollment.

University administrators and teachers use anguished words to describe what has happened since.

“I’ve heard from Latinos and blacks that Asians should not be considered a minority at all,” says Elaine Kim, a professor of Asian-American studies at Berkeley. “What happened after they got rid of affirmative action has been a disaster — for blacks and Latinos. And for Asians it’s been a disaster because some people think the campus has become all-Asian.”

The diminishing number of African-Americans on campus is a consistent topic of discussion among black students. Some say they feel isolated, without a sense of community. “You really do feel like you stand out,” says Armilla Staley, a second-year law student. In her freshman year, she was one of only nine African-Americans in a class of 265. “I’m almost always the only black person in my class,” says Ms. Staley, who favors a return to some form of affirmative action.

“Quite frankly, when you walk around campus, it’s overwhelmingly Asian,” she says. “I don’t feel any tension between Asians and blacks, but I don’t really identify with the Asian community as a minority either.”

Walter Robinson, the director of undergraduate admissions, who is African-American, has the same impression. “The problem is that because we’re so few, we get absorbed among the masses,” he says.

Chancellor Birgeneau says he finds the low proportion of blacks and Hispanics appalling, and two years into his tenure, he has not found a remedy. To broaden the pool, the U.C. system promises to admit the top 4 percent at each high school in the state and uses “comprehensive review” — considering an applicant’s less quantifiable attributes. But the net results for a campus like Berkeley are disappointing. His university, Dr. Birgeneau says, loses talented black applicants to private universities like Stanford, where African-American enrollment was 10 percent last year — nearly three times that at Berkeley.

“I just don’t believe that in a state with three million African-Americans there is not a single engineering student for the state’s premier public university,” says the chancellor, who has called for reinstating racial preferences.

One leading critic of bringing affirmative action back to Berkeley is David A. Hollinger, chairman of its history department and author of “Post-Ethnic America: Beyond Multiculturalism.” He supported racial preferences before Proposition 209, but is no longer so sure. “You could argue that the campus is more diverse now,” because Asians comprise so many different cultures, says Dr. Hollinger. A little more than half of Asian freshmen at Berkeley are Chinese, the largest group, followed by Koreans, East-Indian/Pakistani, Filipino and Japanese.

He believes that Latinos are underrepresented because many come from poor agrarian families with little access to the good schools that could prepare them for the rigors of Berkeley. He points out that, on the other hand, many of the Korean students on campus are sons and daughters of parents with college degrees. In any event, he says, it is not the university’s job to fix the problems that California’s public schools produce.

Dr. Birgeneau agrees on at least one point: “I think we’re now at the point where the category of Asian is not very useful. Koreans are different from people from Sri Lanka and they’re different than Japanese. And many Chinese-Americans are a lot like Caucasians in some of their values and areas of interest.”

IF Berkeley is now a pure meritocracy, what does that say about the future of great American universities in the post-affirmative action age? Are we headed toward a day when all elite colleges will look something like Berkeley: relatively wealthy whites (about 60 percent of white freshmen’s families make $100,000 or more) and a large Asian plurality and everyone else underrepresented? Is that the inevitable result of color-blind admissions?

Eric Liu, author of “The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker” and a domestic policy adviser to former President Bill Clinton, is troubled by the assertion that the high Asian makeup of elite campuses reflects a post-racial age where merit prevails.

“I really challenge this idea of a pure meritocracy,” says Mr. Liu, who runs mentoring programs that grew out of his book “Guiding Lights: How to Mentor and Find Life’s Purpose.” Until all students — from rural outposts to impoverished urban settings — are given equal access to the Advanced Placement classes that have proved to be a ticket to the best colleges, then the idea of pure meritocracy is bunk, he says. “They’re measuring in a fair way the results of an unfair system.”

He also says Asian-Americans are tired of having to live up to — or defend — “that tired old warhorse of the model minority.”

“We shouldn’t be calling these studying habits that help so many kids get into good schools ‘Asian values,’ ” says Mr. Liu, himself a product of Yale College and Harvard Law School. “These are values that used to be called Jewish values or Anglo-Saxon work-ethic values. The bottom line message from the family is the same: work hard, defer gratification, share sacrifice and focus on the big goal.”

Hazel R. Markus lectures on this very subject as a professor of psychology at Stanford and co-director of its Research Institute for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. Her studies have found that Asian students do approach academics differently. Whether educated in the United States or abroad, she says, they see professors as authority figures to be listened to, not challenged in the back-and-forth Socratic tradition. “You hear some teachers say that the Asian kids get great grades but just sit there and don’t participate,” she says. “Talking and thinking are not the same thing. Being a student to some Asians means that it’s not your place to question, and that flapping your gums all day is not the best thing.”

One study at the institute looked at Asian-American students in lab courses, and found they did better solving problems alone and without conversations with other students. “This can make for some big problems,” she says, like misunderstandings between classmates. “But people are afraid to talk about these differences. And one of the fantastic opportunities of going to a Stanford or Berkeley is to learn something about other cultures, so we should be talking about it.”

As for the rise in Asian enrollment, the reason “isn’t a mystery,” Dr. Markus says. “This needs to come out and we shouldn’t hide it,” she says. “In Asian families, the No. 1 job of a child is to be a student. Being educated — that’s the most honorable thing you can do.”

BERKELEY is “Asian heaven,” as one student puts it. “When I went back East my Asian friends were like, ‘Wow, you go to Berkeley — that must be great,’ ” says Tera Nakata, who just graduated and now works in the residence halls.

You need only go to colleges in, say, the Midwest to appreciate the Asian feel of this campus. But Berkeley is freighted with the baggage of stereotypes — that it is boring socially, full of science nerds, a hard place to make friends.

“About half the students at this school spend their entire career in the library,” one person wrote in a posting on vault.com, a popular job and college search Web site.

Another wrote: “Everyone who is white joins the Greek system and everyone who isn’t joins a ‘theme house’ or is a member of a club related to race.”

There is some truth to the image, students acknowledge, but it does not do justice to the bigger experience at Berkeley. “You have the ability to stay with people who are like you and not get out of your comfort zone,” says Ms. Nakata. “But I learned a lot by mixing it up. I lived in a dorm with a lot of different races, and we would have these deep conversations all the time about race and our feelings of where we belong and where we came from.” But she also says that the “celebrate diversity aspect” of Berkeley doesn’t go deep. “We want to respect everyone’s differences, but we don’t mix socially.”

Near the end of my stay at Berkeley I met a senior, Jonathan Lee, the son of a Taiwanese father and a mother from Hong Kong. He grew up well east of Los Angeles, in the New America sprawl of fast-growing Riverside County, where his father owned a restaurant. He went to a high school where he was a minority.

“When I was in high school,” he says, “there was this notion that you’re Chinese, you must be really good in math.” But now Mr. Lee is likely to become a schoolteacher, much to the chagrin of his parents, “who don’t think it will be very lucrative.”

The story of Jon Lee’s journey at Berkeley is compelling. As president of the Asian-American Association, he has tried to dispel stereotypes of “the Dragon Lady seductress or the idea that everybody plays the piano.” His closest friends are in the club. It may seem that he has become more insular, that he has found his tribe. But Mr. Lee says he has been trying to lead other Asian students out of the university bubble. Once a week, they go into a mostly black and Hispanic middle school in the Bay Area to mentor students.

For the last five semesters, Mr. Lee has worked with one student. “I take him out for dim sum, or to Chinatown, or just talk about college and what it’s like at Cal,” he says. “We talk about race and we talk about everything. And he’s taught me a lot.”

The mentoring program came about not because of prodding by well-meaning advisers, teachers or student groups. It came about because Mr. Lee looked around at the new America and found that it looked very different from Berkeley. And much as he loves Berkeley, he knew that if he wanted to learn enough to teach, he needed to get off campus.

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How to Get Into an Ivy League College: Many a Truth Has Been Said in Jest (Humor)

Ivy Gate How to Get Into an Ivy League College Humor JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club This is a funny post from Ivy Gate Blog, How To Get Into An Ivy League School: A Step-by-Step Guide Featuring Testimony From a Real, Live Silver-Spoon Legacy and a Racial Minority! by Maureen O’Connor, but many a truth has been said in jest.

Namely:

3. Exploit your minority status, hide your white background, avoid being Asian.Espenshade and Chung estimate a 230-point boost for African-Americans, 185 points for Hispanics, a 50-point deducation for Asian-Americans, and nothing for Whitey. Currently, the Common App allows students to self-identify multiple races or none at all; thus, the following guidelines:
  • i. Non-Asian Minorities: List your race in the section provided for it and devote at least one essay to race-related “grappling.” If possible, join an organization (preferrably a charitable one!) that focuses on your ethnic background and/or related backgrounds: Not only does this allow you to bring up your race more than once, it’ll help with all that grappling! Since you’re an Ivy-aspiring young’un, you should already be introspective and caring enough to do these things on your own. But if you’re among the dispassionately aggressive multitude that manages to take every Ivy League class by storm, you’ll be wise enough to fake it.
  • ii. White folk: You have two options. The first option is to be honest, check off the “White/Caucasian” bubble, and move on. The second option might make you go to hell, but if you want to go to Harvard, you’re probably into fiery torture, anyway. So: Fudge the truth. This could mean checking off the “Other” bubble. (Race is a social construct! We’re all “out of Africa,” anyway!) Alternately, you could take advantage of that one great-great-grandmother who might have been part Iroquois because she had the most gorgeouscheekbones. We spoke to a white, US-born child of Apartheid-era South Africans who identified himself as “African-American” on his application. No word on whether it ever came up. Of course, we’ll never know if it mattered, or if he got in on merit.
  • iii. Asians: You’re screwed. It’s not the negative-50 SAT points that will get you, it’s the nebulous world of underhanded anti-Asian discrimination that upper education can’t quite shake, of late. Part I of our guide saw an admissions officer snorting at “another Asian math genius with no personality.” This time, let’s try the account of a Yale student from the West Coast:
My interviewer complimented me as a breath of fresh air because he sees a lot of really smart Asian fellows come in with absolutely no personality, who just do well in school, and he laments that they don’t seem to have lives outside of school, making for really boring interviews. The funny thing is that I was pretty much exactly that throughout high school (except of Mexican heritage), but he just happened to catch all the wrong, “not-an-academic-recluse” signals from me.

While interviews are generally irrelevant (see #4) the sentiment is startlingly pervasive. Asians who want to beat the odds can decline to name their race, but it’s not like they won’t notice if your name is, say, Jian Li. If you feel like going to hell, try the fudging techniques listed in section ii. (As a mixed-Asian girl with a white name, I should probably note that race denial can turn its subjects into depressed, addled un-people and probably isn’t worth it. Then again, the sandblast of time may have dulled my memory of how it feels to be a desperately ambitious, upwardly-mobile eighteen-year-old, so my risk/reward calculus could be off.)

The entire post is here. All posts on Why You Shouldn’t Identify as Asian When Applying to College are here.

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U.C. System ‘Diversity’ Means More Whites, Fewer Asians

University of California UC System JadeLuckClub new diversity policy means fewer AsiansAs part of an ongoing series on examining Asian Americans and elite college admissions, this article notes the new admission policy changes to the University of California system which is deliberately rewritten to reduce the number of Asians. Though that sounds bad, it must be noted that Asians made up more than 50% of students at some of the U.C. colleges which is admittedly out of whack. Still, I would have rather seen a policy change that boosts low income families, Latinos and African Americans. All the posts on Why You Shouldn’t Identify as Asian When Applying to College are here including on that gives stats on Asians at U.C.s.

This is from Linking and Thinking on Education by Joanne Jacobs blog:

MARCH 30, 2009 BY 

University of California’s new admissions policy will increase the number of whites, reduce Asian enrollment and give a very small boost to Hispanics and blacks. The university no longer will require applicants to take three SAT II subject tests. From the San Jose Mercury News:

“It’s affirmative action for whites,” said UC-Berkeley professor Ling-chi Wang.

. . . Under the new policy, according to UC’s own estimate, the proportion of Asian admissions would drop as much as 7 percent, while admissions of whites could rise by up to 10 percent.

California’s Asian-American students are much more likely to take college-prep classes, earn high grades, do well on subject-matter and math tests and apply to public universities.  However, they don’t do quite as well as whites on the SAT I “reasoning” test, which relies on verbal skills, because so many speak English as a second language.

Asian-Americans make up 37 percent of UC students, though they’re only 12 percent of California’s population. At UC-Berkeley, 46 percent of the freshman class is Asian. Giving preferences to students from low-income families qualifies more Asian-Americans for UC.

The only policy change that’s boosted admit numbers for Hispanic and black students is relying more heavily on class rank:  Students with good grades at heavily minority high schools may qualify for UC despite weak test scores.

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Too Asian? Insider Higher Ed’s Article on National Association for College Admission Counseling

This was published on October 10, 2006 in Inside Higher Ed about a panel at their annual meeting of the National Association for College Admission Counseling titled “Too Asian?” The upshot is that the bias is real. Can you hide your Asian identity? You can opt not to answer the OPTIONAL race question but this really helps those who are multi-racial. And, this is a problem that is partially self created by Asian American applicants who apply in overwhelming droves to just certain elite private colleges of the  Stanford/Harvard/Yale/Princeton/Johns Hopkins ilk. Can we stop this insanity please? See here for the Top 100 Universities in the World for other options!
  • Admissions officers, while defending the overall integrity of the system, admitted that bias is a real problem. And advocates for Asian students admitted that they are challenged by the many Asian families who want to consider only a subset of institutions.
  •  One high school guidance counselor told the panel of experts that a sign of the distrust of the system is that he is increasingly asked by Asian American students if they would be better off applying to college if they declined to check the race/ethnicity box on the applications.
  • Jon Reider, a counselor at University High School, in San Francisco, urged the questioner to encourage students to continue to check the box, and he questioned whether leaving the box would do much good. “If your name is Wong…..” he said to laughter. But he also noted that one of the many ways Asian Americans today don’t fit stereotypes is in their names. The Asian American woman on the panel — and admissions official at Colorado College — was named Rachel Cederberg.
  • He also said that the bias is real — and cited his experience in his previous job as part of the admissions office at Stanford University.
  • At the same time, he and others said that part of the problem in admissions today is created by Asian applicants — and especially their parents — who tend to accept only certain colleges as legitimate options.
For all posts on Why You Shouldn’t Identify as Asian When You Apply to College, please click here. To get these posts, please sign up for email subscription on the right hand side bar.
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“Rachel, for an Asian, has many friends.”

That’s the kind of line that apparently is turning up more and more in letters of recommendation on behalf of Asian American applicants to top colleges, according to experts on a panel called “Too Asian?” at the annual meeting of the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

When the recommendation line was cited as the kind of bias — even perhaps well intentioned bias — that pervades the admissions process, many in the audience at first seemed angry that in 2006 people would reference race in that way. But when it came time for audience comments, one high school counselor said that counselors feel they have no choice but to mention students’ Asian status and to try to make it seem like their Asian students are different from other Asian students.

“We make those comparisons because we feel it’s the only way we can get through and get our students looked at,” said the counselor, to knowing nods from others in the audience.

Many Asian students and their families have for years believed that quotas or bias hinder their chances at top Ivy or California universities. But to listen to panelists — and members of a standing room only audience — the intensity of concern has grown, as has mistrust of the system.

In the discussion at the NACAC meeting, participants tried to talk frankly about Asian students’ perceptions and colleges’ perception of Asians — with several people admitting that they were simultaneously denouncing stereotypes and saying that some of them had at least partial truth that colleges and high schools need to confront.

Admissions officers, while defending the overall integrity of the system, admitted that bias is a real problem. And advocates for Asian students admitted that they are challenged by the many Asian families who want to consider only a subset of institutions.

Many counselors — during and after the session — said that they have little doubt that when applying for undergraduate admission to research universities, white applicants are getting admitted with lower test scores and grades than Asian applicants are. One high school guidance counselor told the panel of experts that a sign of the distrust of the system is that he is increasingly asked by Asian American students if they would be better off applying to college if they declined to check the race/ethnicity box on the applications.

Jon Reider, a counselor at University High School, in San Francisco, urged the questioner to encourage students to continue to check the box, and he questioned whether leaving the box would do much good. “If your name is Wong…..” he said to laughter. But he also noted that one of the many ways Asian Americans today don’t fit stereotypes is in their names. The Asian American woman on the panel — and admissions official at Colorado College — was named Rachel Cederberg.

The prompt for the discussion was an article that ran last year in The Wall Street Journal about “the new white flight.” The article reported that white families were leaving some nice suburbs with great public schools — or sending their children to private schools — as districts became “too Asian,” apparently meaning districts where after-school academic programs are more popular than soccer. While the school districts about which the article was written have criticized the piece, many at the NACAC meeting said that the attitudes quoted in the article were real — and were playing a big impact in college admissions.

Reider said he thought the article and the question of “Too Asian?” that it posed was “shameful” and said that he was “embarrassed” as an American that such a piece would appear today. He asked whether anyone would think of publishing an article called “Too Latino?” and compared the bias to the kind of bigotry that for decades limited the enrollment of Jewish students at top private universities. “This is a racist question,” he said.

He also said that the bias is real — and cited his experience in his previous job as part of the admissions office at Stanford University. There, he said, the office did a study some years ago in which it compared Asian and white applicants with the same overall academic and leadership rankings. The study was only of “unhooked kids,” meaning those with no extra help for being an alumni child or an athlete. The study found that comparably qualified white applicants were “significantly” more likely to be admitted than their Asian counterparts.

Stanford’s admissions office responded with some serious self-reflection, he said, and officials now spend some time each year studying different kinds of bias — like letters that compare Asian applicants to other Asians — in an attempt to weed out any unfair judgments. With bias removed, he said, “there’s no way that a school or college can be considered too Asian.”

At the same time, he and others said that part of the problem in admissions today is created by Asian applicants — and especially their parents — who tend to accept only certain colleges as legitimate options.

Colorado College, where Cederberg now works, has an Asian population under 10 percent — a figure that is quite typical for liberal arts colleges. Asian students are considered to add to diversity to the college and she has the full support of the college in recruiting them, she said.

Based on working with institutions where Asian enrollment exceed 25 percent — something that is increasingly common at elite publics in California and top universities elsewhere — she said she hears lots of talk about admissions officers who complain about “yet another Asian student who wants to major in math and science and who plays the violin” or people who say “I don’t want another boring Asian.”

She said she wishes more Asian students would look at liberal arts colleges. A broader problem, several speakers said, was an emphasis on just a few kinds of institutions.

Mike White, principal of Lynbrook High School, in one of the districtsThe Wall Street Journal wrote about, said that he has a very tough time persuading Asian students to look at the California State University campuses, including nearby San Jose State University, which has many academic programs in areas his students want to study.

If they don’t get into the University of California campus of choice or Stanford, he said, many prefer to enroll at a community college and transfer to a UC campus rather than attending a Cal State campus. White stressed that he didn’t mean to be critical of community colleges, but that it struck him that his students were ignoring institutions that were a good match — just because the institutions didn’t have a perceived level of prestige.

Reider described an exercise he does for Asian parents in which he tells them about two institutions. At one, he describes walking through a beautiful campus, meeting a president who knows all the students by name, seeing labs that are first rate, and learning that science students are admitted to top graduate and professional programs, based in part on their original research. At the other institution, he describes how he meets a smart science student frustrated that he can’t get any work done because of the loud music down the hall. When Reider walks down the hall, a student blaring music tells him it’s a party school.

After he describes the two campuses, he says he tells the parents “you’d want your kids at the first school, right?” They agree. Then he tells them that the first institution was Whitman College (although he quickly adds that it could have been a few dozen other liberal arts colleges) and the second institution was Harvard University. And then, he said, the parents all say that they were wrong when they answered the question the first time, and they still want their kids at Harvard.

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Asian High School & College Students: Be Featured in Article!

JadeLuckClub Be Heard Asian Students Denied Admission to Elite Private CollegesI’m Jesse Washington, an AP journalist who covers race and ethnicity. I’m looking to speak with Asian high school and college students about whether they identify themselves as “Asian” on their college applications. Asian students are often denied admission to competitive schools despite grades and test scores superior to non-Asian applicants. Was/is this an option for you? Anonymity may be granted for some interviews. You can find me at jwashington@ap.orgwww.jessewashington.com, or www.twitter.com/jessewashington.

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San Francisco Chronicle: Ivy League Schools’ Barrier to Asian Americans

Ivy League anti Jewish 70 years ago Why you shouldn't identify as Asian when you apply now JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club

As part of an ongoing discourse on Why You Shouldn’t Identify as Asian When Applying to College, I have an article from the San Francisco Chronicle which compares the situation of Asian American kids who apply to Ivy League schools with the Jewish kids from New York more than 50 years ago. The similarities are striking. All the posts on this topic are here.

 

3/28/10 San Francisco ChronicleIvy League schools’ barrier to Asian Americans
by Jules Older

Somewhere in hell, at this very moment, industrious devils are preparing a particularly hot fire. A busload of VIP sinners is on its way down. They’re from America’s leading universities. And even better … their grandparents are already there.

Both generations are from Ivy League college admissions offices. Both are guilty of sins against humanity and the American way.

The grandparents are still searing for discrimination against Jews. The new crop will be charbroiled throughout eternity for the same crimes against Asians.

Amazed by the lack of learning at prestigious institutions of learning, the denizens of hell can’t get over their good fortune.

The grandparents ran the admissions offices of American universities during the 1930s and ’40s. One of their jobs was to keep their institutions from being “overwhelmed” by Jewish kids from New York.

The New Yorkers had heroic stories. They were poor and hardworking, and their parents were new American immigrants, escaping oppression, even death. The kids got into college because their mothers made them do their homework.

Only they didn’t get in.

They were kept out by the quota system, by a newfound interest in “geographic diversity” and by plain old bigotry. They weren’t wanted, and those who did squeeze through the barriers (in that pushy way of theirs) were simply too smart to keep out.

But surely, lessons have been learned since then.

No.

In her carefully researched article in the Boston Globe, “Do colleges redline Asian Americans?,” adjunct Professor Kara Miller clearly demonstrates that, yes, they do. Here’s the most damning piece of evidence: “Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade, who reviewed data from 10 elite colleges, writes … that Asian applicants typically need an extra 140 points [on their SATs] to compete with white students.”

140 extra points? Try carrying that weight in your high school backpack. Like the predominantly Eastern Jews of the past century, the mostly Western Asians of this one are being routinely, systematically and almost openly discriminated against by America’s leading educational institutions.

“Indeed,” Miller writes, “most elite universities appear determined to keep their Asian American totals in a narrow range. Yale’s class of 2013 is 15.5 percent Asian American, compared with 16.1 percent at Dartmouth, 19.1 percent at Harvard and 17.6 percent at Princeton.”

And these practices aren’t just at East Coast universities. Espenshade’s research included institutions from all over the country.

Two facts are particularly galling: Our best and brightest halls of higher education have apparently learned nothing from their past sins. Nothing. Even worse, the kids these schools reject are once again exemplars of the American dream. They come from poor, immigrant families. Many narrowly escaped from horrors at home. They’re being rejected in favor of the wealthy offspring of already privileged white Americans who presumably look more like the alumni than they do.

In 1958, Pete Seeger recorded “The Ballad of Sherman Wu.” To the tune of “Streets of Laredo,” it recounted the tale of a student at Northwestern University who was “depledged” from a fraternity because he was Asian. Here’s the key line, spoken by the fraternity president:
If he were just Jewish,
Or Spanish or German,
But he’s so damned Chinese,
The whole campus would know.

What’s happened between the 1950s and the 2010s? Back then, Sherman Wu couldn’t get into a fraternity. Now he might not get into college.

That’s why the furnaces of hell are going full blast.

 

Jules Older, julesolder.com, lives and writes in San Francisco.

 

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Affirmative Inaction: History and Consequences of Affirmative Action

William Chase Affirmative Inaction History of Affirmative Action Jade Luck ClubThis is a really great overview of the history of Affirmative Action written by William Chase who has been the President of Wesleyan and Emory colleges.

This is the saddest part of all and makes me think that Affirmative Action is broken and needs to be fixed:
  •  The dwindling population of African-American males on college campuses over the last four decades marks the most stunning failure in sustaining the model commonwealth. It also illuminates how limited universities and colleges are in what they can do, even if unconstrained by courts and public opinion.
  • While the proportion of black students on American college and university campuses, both public and private, rose from 9 percent in 1976 to 13 percent in 2004 (with blacks continuing to represent about 12 percent of the national population), the proportion who were men was the same in 2002—4.3 percent—as it was in 1976.
  • Perhaps most striking about these discouraging figures is that many black male students at some of the best institutions would likely not be enrolled at all if they were not athletes.
  • One goal of affirmative action, then, a campus fully representative of the diversity of the nation, can be achieved only when black males are present as students in proportion to their presence in the nation as a whole, and not just as athletes who also happen to be students­.
It’s a long article so here are some relevant quotes:
  •  Two fundamental ambitions have long characterized the culture of our colleges and universities: they have sought to be meritocracies, and they have sought to be egalitarian communities.
  • For all their differences, both critics and advocates acknowledge that some classes of students, particularly African-American and Hispanic, cannot gain admission to many colleges and universities solely on the basis of their academic preparation. They need preferential treatment to enter the model commonwealth.
  • One important set of studies, by Thomas Espenshade of Princeton University and his colleagues, examined the records of more than 100,000 applicants to three highly selective private universities. They found that being an African-American candidate was worth, on average, an additional 230 SAT points on the 1600-point scale and that being Hispanic was worth an additional 185 points, but that being an Asian-American candidate warranted the loss, on average, of 50 SAT points.
  • What happens if the handicapping is taken away? The same authors found that the outcome would be dramatic, with acceptance rates falling for African-American applicants from 31 percent to 13 percent and for Hispanic applicants by as much as one-half to two-thirds; Asian-American applicants would occupy four out of five of the seats created by fewer African-American and Hispanic acceptances. The Asian-American acceptance rate would rise by one-third from nearly 18 percent to more than 23 percent. Most astonishingly, it turns out that—contrary to the assumptions of those who contend that affirmative action puts white students at a severe disadvantage—white applicants would benefit very little from the removal of racial and ethnic preferences; their acceptance rate would increase by less than one percentage point.white applicants would benefit very little from the removal of racial and ethnic preferences; their acceptance rate would increase by less than one percentage point.
  • Given the probable results of eliminating affirmative action—a student body consisting almost wholly of whites and Asian Americans—no chief administrator of a respectable college or university would happily oversee the erosion of the presence of black or Hispanic students. That is why no such institution has volunteered to be first to proclaim that it will formally jettison affirmative action.
  • In order to protect what they see as the positive results of the practice and also to protect themselves against litigation by a white plaintiff arguing that his or her chance of admission has been jeopardized, colleges and universities have increasingly relied on admissions standards that depend less on SAT scores and more on intangible and personal attributes: having leadership skills, having the strength to overcome social and economic circumstances, or being the first in the family to seek higher education. With such careful consideration, the candidates can then be admitted (or rejected) one by one.
  • But careful consideration of this sort is expensive. It requires many people to read, with sensitivity, thousands upon thousands of files, and to make judgments requiring a delicate understanding of the abilities and character, the social background and the hidden promise, of the young people represented by those files.
  • … Colleges and universities themselves are silently backing away, bit by bit, from affirmative action. Data from more than 1,300 four-year colleges and universities in the United States show that the use of race and ethnicity in admissions declined sharply after the mid-1990s, especially at public institutions. The proportion of public four-year colleges considering minority status in admissions has fallen from more than 60 percent to about 35 percent. Among private institutions, the drop during the same years has been notable but less dramatic, from 57 percent to 45 percent.
  • Yet another reason lies behind the decline, in practice, of affirmative action: it is expensive—in more ways than one. A large proportion of students benefiting from affirmative action benefit from financial aid.
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CalTech Admissions: This is What a Meritocracy Looks Like (But It Ain’t Pretty for Everyone)

Caltech Meritocracy JadeLuckClub Asian American College Admissions Discrimination against Asians

Students of Asian descent often receive no boost in admissions, unlike blacks and Hispanics, although they are racial minorities.

In fact, admissions officers set the bar higher for these students. 

“Applicants to Caltech are clearly seen as representing only themselves and their own individual merit and achievement, not their race or their ethnic group.”

from American Civil Rights Blog, Caltech’s Meritocracy by La Shawn Barber

This was published on the American Civil Rights blog. For those who believe in Affirmative Action, take a look at Caltech who firmly rejects the idea of admissions as a vague and nebulous “catch up” game for some minority groups, while ignoring a negative impact on other minority groups. Affirmative Action is a party that Asian Americans don’t want to attend anymore. No thank you! There are very few colleges that buck the notion of Affirmative Action but Caltech is the gold standard for an admissions policy built around merit, judging each candidate as an individual. Using test scores. In fact, if you scored a 775 out of 800 on the math portion of the SAT, 75% percent of your Caltech classmates will have outscored you. This is what doesn’t matter: legacy, athletic ability, and ethnicity. Here’s what does matter: a passion and ability  for math and science.

How does this play out from an Affirmative Action perspective? The result is:  Asians 40%, Caucasians 39% , Hispanics 6%, Non-Hispanic Black, less than 1%. (Class of 2008 data listed below). See my other post on Affirmative Action Hurts Caucasians and Asians.

This is not to say that I think that this is the correct distribution of minorities NOR that this is the right system for all colleges and universities. In fact, I do NOT think that less than 1% Non-Hispanic Black is good for society or for diversity within a college. Nor is 6% Hispanic high enough.  CalTech is unique because it is a specialized math and science focused college that also can get funding from outside of its alumni base BECAUSE it is a prestigious math and science powerhouse. My point of this article is just to illustrate what a meritocracy looks like in its pure state and to show that the percentage of Asians is quite high.

For all the posts on Don’t Identify as Asian When You Apply to College, click here.

Caltech’s Meritocracy

by LA SHAWN BARBER on 12/23/2010

Princeton University’s Russell K. Nieli, author of the forthcoming book, Wounds that Will Not Heal: Affirmative Action and Our Continuing Racial Divide, revealed that students of Asian descent often receive no boost in admissions, unlike blacks and Hispanics, although they are racial minorities. In fact, admissions officers set the bar higher for these students. In a pure meritocratic sense, the practice is ill-conceived.

Wounds that Will Not Heal: Affirmative Action and Our Continuing Racial Divide by Russell K. Nieli

In a recent essay at Minding the Campus, Nieli writes that America’s elite colleges and universities capitulated to ridiculous demands during the 1960s and, among other things, lowered their standards. The California Institute of Technology, or Caltech, stands alone among the elite. By admitting students based on grades and scores and not on race, the school blows the rest out of the water. An excerpt (emphases added):

“What this means is that at Caltech, there are no dumb jocks, dumb legacies, or dumb affirmative action students. It is clear from its published statistics that the non-academic criteria that preoccupy admissions committees at all other elite universities count for little at this beacon of pure meritocracy. Perhaps the most striking difference from all other elite universities — including institutions like MIT and the University of Chicago which forgo athletic recruitment — is Caltech’s complete indifference to racial balancing. In a state and a region of the country with the largest Hispanic population, Caltech’s entering freshmen class in 2008 was less than 6 percent Hispanic (13 out of 236). The unwillingness to lower standards for a larger black representation is even more striking — less than 1 percent (2/236) of Caltech’s 2008 entering freshmen were listed as ‘non-Hispanic black.’ This ‘underrepresentation’ of blacks and Hispanics, of course, was more than made up for by the huge ‘overrepresentation’ of Asians. Only 4 percent of the U.S. population, Asians made up a whopping 40 percent of the incoming freshmen class in 2008, a slightly larger proportion than the 39 percent figure for whites. Applicants to Caltech are clearly seen as representing only themselves and their own individual merit and achievement, not their race or their ethnic group. As a professor at Caltech who has taught there for many years explained to me in an email, ‘We try, like our competitors, very, very hard to find, recruit, and nurture underrepresented minorities but we won’t bend our standards.’”

Let’s read these words again: “Applicants to Caltech are clearly seen as representing only themselves and their own individual merit and achievement, not their race or their ethnic group.”

“Applicants to Caltech are clearly seen as representing only themselves and their own individual merit and achievement, not their race or their ethnic group.”

Such should be the aspiration of every individual, regardless of race, ethnic background, or class. We should aspire to be assessed and judged based on our merit and achievement, with race playing absolutely no part in an admissions or hiring or contracting decision. In Caltech’s case, it matters little if only two blacks are admitted for a particular year. Those students know, without a doubt, their grades and scores got them in.

According to Nieli, Caltech doesn’t do legacy admissions, either.

“If you can’t meet the stellar performance requirements and show an intense love for science and mathematics, Caltech isn’t interested in you and will not lower its standards. When you apply to Caltech the admissions committee is interested only in your intellectual merit and passion for learning. It has little or no interest in your family heritage, your race, or your skill in slapping around a hockey puck.”

I don’t know about you, but those words sound like music to my ears. Oppressed people longed to be treated like this! Only when race plays no part in an admissions or hiring or contracting decision can individuals truly strive to excel, knowing their race or ethnicity will provide neither benefit nor detriment to their prospects.

This kind of “rugged individualism” scares some people. For others, it’s part of life’s joy. There are no guarantees of success, but the game is yours to lose. It’s very frustrating to me that people don’t see this and instead choose to believe the world is against them because of their race and rely on race-based government policy to prop them up.

To view Nieli’s book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

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Affirmative Action Hurts Asians and Caucasians: What To Do About It

Affirmative Action Hurts Asians and Caucasians Whites JadeLuckClub Ivy League Discrimination of Asians

 

 “Espenshade discovered that when comparing applicants with similar grades, scores, athletic qualifications, and family history

for seven elite private colleges and universities:

whites were three times as likely to get accepted as Asians;

Hispanics were twice as likely to win admission as whites,

and African-Americans were at least five times as likely to be accepted as whites.”

The more that I read about Affirmative Action, the more I realize how complex the issue is. Yes, it does appear to be quite true that top Asian Americans students have tougher odds when applying to elite private colleges because there are simply too many of them applying to a set number of spots. This wasn’t always the case when Affirmative Action was put into place, but with Tiger Moms hard at work, Tiger Children of Chinese/Korean/Japanese descent particularly applied in great numbers to Ivy Leagues and other top schools. While the percentage of Asians at top schools continues to rise, the number of highly qualified Asian applicants goes up still higher causing this imbalance.

Yet, Affirmative Action is needed in the corporate world where Asian Americans still battle the bamboo ceiling. The conundrum is that no Asian American group is willing to take up the battle cry for getting still more Asian American kids into elite private colleges but there are serious repercussions for not addressing this. Asian American students face immense pressure on many fronts (think Tiger Mom!) to outperform their Asian peers in order to get into top colleges and the result is mental health issues including depression and suicide. If you want stats on that, I can pull them for you. Just leave me a comment.

What to do? Changing laws requires serious and ongoing pressure and I don’t see that happening within our own community. My solution is quite simple. Opt out of the race question. It’s optional anyway.

IF YOU ARE HAPA: DON’T CHECK ASIAN. Options for you include: mixed race OR Caucasian. Realize that checking Asian hurts your chances for admission so why do that?  Checking mixed race or Caucasian will help you get in AND it’s completely correct. And, by removing yourself from the Asian box, you decrease the number of Asians in that giant pile of applications.

IF YOU ARE ASIAN: DON’T CHECK ASIAN. Options for you include: undisclosed OR skip question entirely. “But what if my name outs me?” is a common question. My answer: no one in admissions is shaking your family tree for your true ethnicity. They are, by the way, giving your entire application about three minutes of their time. That includes reading your essays and letters of recommendation. Don’t sweat it. Also realize that hapas can have Asian names and qualify for Caucasian. There’s actually no way to tell your ethnicity short of researching your family history.

Objections to this pragmatic approach include being proud of one’s ethnicity and not hiding true stats of Asians. My pragmatic answer is: you can assert your ethnic identity AFTER you get in. This is, after all, your goal, right?

For all posts on Don’t Identify as Asian When Applying to College, click here. I welcome your reactions, comments and feedback!

 

8/17/10 International Business TimesAsian-Americans in the Ivy League: A Portrait of Privilege and Discrimination


By Palash R. Ghosh

Reflecting their growing social and economic prominence in the U.S., Asian-Americans are disproportionately represented at the most elite universities in the land, relative to their numbers in the total population.

While “Asians” — defined broadly as people who can trace their ancestry to East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Pacific Islands — account for only about 5 percent of the U.S. populace, they are believed to represent up to 20 percent of the enrollment at the top Ivy League schools.

However, the irony is that if the admission criteria and process in all U.S. universities were completely fair and equitable — that is, based purely on academic qualifications — the Asian weighting in the elite colleges would likely be significantly higher.

In an article in the Boston Globe, Kara Miller, a history professor at Babson College, wrote that Asian-Americans score an average of 1623 — out of a possible 2400 — on SAT tests. By comparison, Hispanics and blacks average 1,364 and 1,276 on the SAT, respectively, while whites average 1,581.

Quite a conundrum, indeed. Are Asians being celebrated and rewarded for their hard work, intelligence and success? Or are they being discriminated against?

It depends on who you ask.

Consider what happened in California — a state with a very high Asian population of about 13 percent — in late 1996. Voters passed Proposition 209, a referendum that essentially revoked Affirmative Action measures and deemed that entry into public colleges — including the huge University of California (UC) system — should be entirely race-blind.

“A direct consequence of this was that the percentage of Asian-Americans at universities like Berkeley, UC-Irvine, and UCLA immediately skyrocketed,” said Stephen D.H. Hsu, a professor of physics at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

“At those institutions, the Asian-American representation currently approaches 50 percent.”

Not surprisingly, the passage of “209” led to a political backlash and resentment against Asian-Americans — from whites, but particularly from African-Americans and Hispanics, who saw their numbers plunge at these institutions.”

The administration at UC is now under significant pressure to remove the current system, Hsu noted. “They’ve responded to the criticism by tweaking the admission process,” he said. “Test scores are not weighted as heavily as high school GPA, and the top few percent of graduates at each high school are admitted to UC, even if, in absolute terms, they are not as strong as higher scoring students from top high schools.” *

Of course, Hsu adds, Asian-Americans are generally happy with things as they are — since they both find it fair and beneficial to them. Moreover, California’s top two private schools, Stanford University and California Institute of Technology (Caltech) also boast disproportionately high Asian-American representation.

“At my alma mater, Caltech, which has a heavy focus on science and engineering and a completely meritocratic admission process, Asian-Americans account for 30 percent-40 percent of the student body,” Hsu added.

Hsu concludes that Affirmative Action probably hurts both whites and Asians since it arbitrarily takes class slots away from them.

This is quite ironic since Asian-Americans have long been discriminated in most other ways throughout their long history in this country. The word “quota” is controversial and politically-charged; one must be careful when using it.  However it’s difficult not to conclude that some elite universities do indeed impose a quota — officially or subconsciously — upon Asian enrollment in order to control their numbers at some specified levels.

Consider a recent study undertaken by Thomas Espenshade, a Princeton sociologist. He calculated that in 1997 African-Americans who achieved scores of 1150 scores on two original SAT tests had the same chances of getting accepted to top private colleges as whites who scored in the 1460s and Asians who scored perfect 1600s.

Or put it another way, Asian applicants typically need to score an extra 140 or so points on their SATs to compete “equally” with white students. Miller of Babson College also wrote that “most elite universities appear determined to keep their Asian American totals in a narrow range. Yale’s class of 2013 is 15.5 percent Asian American, compared with 16.1 percent at Dartmouth, 19.1 percent at Harvard and 17.6 percent at Princeton.”

However, white students are similarly victimized by admission policies at some elite schools.  Espenshade discovered that when comparing applicants with similar grades, scores, athletic qualifications, and family history for seven elite private colleges and universities: whites were three times as likely to get accepted as Asians; Hispanics were twice as likely to win admission as whites, and African-Americans were at least five times as likely to be accepted as whites.

Moreover, if all elite private universities enacted race-blind admissions, the percentage of Asian students would jump from 24 percent to 39 percent (similar to what they already are now at Caltech and Berkeley, two elite institutions with race-blind admissions; the former due to a belief in meritocracy, the latter due to Proposition 209).

What Asian-Americans are enduring now is reminiscent of the travails of American Jews in the 1930s and 1940s, when colleges like Harvard and Yale imposed quotas to limit their numbers at these elite institutions. And like many of those Jews from seven or eight decades ago, numerous Asian-American students today come from poor, humble immigrant households.

Perhaps the bottom line in all this discussion is that entry into and success in top-flight schools — regardless of the surrounding circumstances and controversies — are pushing more and more Asian-Americans into prominent positions in corporate America, Wall Street and even the corridors of power in Washington D.C.

*An article I read which I will post on if I find it again said that the UC System is taking the top 3 graduates in terms of grades and scores from every high school in California, even if these candidates score lower than candidates who scored higher but ranked lower at their [competitive] high school.

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