San Francisco Chronicle: Ivy League Schools’ Barrier to Asian Americans
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.
Somewhere in hell, at this very moment, industrious devils are preparing a particularly hot fire. A busload of VIP sinners is on its way down. They’re from America’s leading universities. And even better … their grandparents are already there.
Both generations are from Ivy League college admissions offices. Both are guilty of sins against humanity and the American way.
The grandparents are still searing for discrimination against Jews. The new crop will be charbroiled throughout eternity for the same crimes against Asians.
Amazed by the lack of learning at prestigious institutions of learning, the denizens of hell can’t get over their good fortune.
The grandparents ran the admissions offices of American universities during the 1930s and ’40s. One of their jobs was to keep their institutions from being “overwhelmed” by Jewish kids from New York.
The New Yorkers had heroic stories. They were poor and hardworking, and their parents were new American immigrants, escaping oppression, even death. The kids got into college because their mothers made them do their homework.
Only they didn’t get in.
They were kept out by the quota system, by a newfound interest in “geographic diversity” and by plain old bigotry. They weren’t wanted, and those who did squeeze through the barriers (in that pushy way of theirs) were simply too smart to keep out.
But surely, lessons have been learned since then.
In her carefully researched article in the Boston Globe, “Do colleges redline Asian Americans?,” adjunct Professor Kara Miller clearly demonstrates that, yes, they do. Here’s the most damning piece of evidence: “Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade, who reviewed data from 10 elite colleges, writes … that Asian applicants typically need an extra 140 points [on their SATs] to compete with white students.”
140 extra points? Try carrying that weight in your high school backpack. Like the predominantly Eastern Jews of the past century, the mostly Western Asians of this one are being routinely, systematically and almost openly discriminated against by America’s leading educational institutions.
“Indeed,” Miller writes, “most elite universities appear determined to keep their Asian American totals in a narrow range. Yale’s class of 2013 is 15.5 percent Asian American, compared with 16.1 percent at Dartmouth, 19.1 percent at Harvard and 17.6 percent at Princeton.”
And these practices aren’t just at East Coast universities. Espenshade’s research included institutions from all over the country.
Two facts are particularly galling: Our best and brightest halls of higher education have apparently learned nothing from their past sins. Nothing. Even worse, the kids these schools reject are once again exemplars of the American dream. They come from poor, immigrant families. Many narrowly escaped from horrors at home. They’re being rejected in favor of the wealthy offspring of already privileged white Americans who presumably look more like the alumni than they do.
In 1958, Pete Seeger recorded “The Ballad of Sherman Wu.” To the tune of “Streets of Laredo,” it recounted the tale of a student at Northwestern University who was “depledged” from a fraternity because he was Asian. Here’s the key line, spoken by the fraternity president:
If he were just Jewish,
Or Spanish or German,
But he’s so damned Chinese,
The whole campus would know.
What’s happened between the 1950s and the 2010s? Back then, Sherman Wu couldn’t get into a fraternity. Now he might not get into college.
That’s why the furnaces of hell are going full blast.
Jules Older, julesolder.com, lives and writes in San Francisco.