A lawsuit has accused Harvard University of discriminating against Asian American applicants by rating them lower than others on traits like positive personality, likeability, courage, kindness, and being widely respected — thus lowering their chances of admission despite having done better than applicants from other racial/ethnic groups on test scores, grades, or extracurriculars.
Harvard’s own internal review in 2013 showed that the proportion of Asian American students would rise from the actual 19 percent to 43 percent, if academic achievement was the only factor.
After considering preferences for athletes and legacy applicants, the proportion of Asian Americans admitted fell to 31 percent. When extracurricular activities and personal ratings were considered, the percentage of Asian Americans dropped to 26 percent. When a category called “demographic” was applied, the percentage of Asian Americans fell to roughly 18 percent.
“It turns out that the suspicions of Asian American alumni, students, and applicants were right all along,” Students for Fair Admissions said. “Harvard today engages in the same kind of discrimination and stereotyping that it used to justify quotas on Jewish applicants in the 1920s and 1930s.”
Edward Blum, a legal strategist who founded Students for Fair Admissions, said his group’s filing “exposes the startling magnitude of Harvard’s discrimination.”
Harvard has objected to the group’s use of the 2013 internal study, which was uncovered during discovery. In a statement, the school called the lawsuit an attack on its ability to consider race in admissions, which it says is necessary to gather a racially diverse mix of students.
Asian American Coalition for Education (AACE) said it vehemently denounces Harvard for its systematic and blatant stereotypes and higher admission standards to unduly harm Asian American applicants.
“Its proven discriminatory practices and refusal to change constitute a modern-day “Chinese Exclusion Act,” AACE said in a statement. “These unlawful acts are often committed under the politically correct name of diversity, undertaken by reputable institutions like Harvard, simply because Asian Americans are not politically powerful and rarely vocal about the injustices they endure.”
AACE also notes that many elite U.S. colleges apply the admission model similar to Harvard’s and unlawfully discriminate against Asian American students. It is illegal and immoral. And it must stop.
Rajeev Majumdar says
I thought this was the most interesting paragraph: “After considering preferences for athletes and legacy applicants, the proportion of Asian Americans admitted fell to 31 percent. When extracurricular activities and personal ratings were considered, the percentage of Asian Americans dropped to 26 percent. When a category called “demographic” was applied, the percentage of Asian Americans fell to roughly 18 percent.”
The first sentence and the last sentence are where the real external problems are.
James Doane says
Here are Harvard’s reported racial percentages for the class of 2021:
Asian American: 22.2%; African American: 14.6%; Hispanic or Latino: 11.6%: Native American or Pacific Islander: 2.5%. Total: 50.9%, up from 47.3%.
Some other Ivies also have majority minority incoming classes.
There is still a legacy preference that mostly benefits whites. That advantage may gradually shrink as more minority graduates send their offspring to their almer maters.
All of us in America are diversity stakeholders, like it or not. Some white students challenge affirmative action that they say exclude them, and now some Asian Americans are also challenging admissions criteria that they argue excludes them. I have roots in the Seattle International District with a parent who supported the family on tips at Bush Garden. Harvard took a chance on me 47 years ago. There were few Asian Americans in my class. The messy debate about equal admissions vs. equitable admissions, and achieving diversity was raging in the 1970’s when I applied, and continues today. What is different is the ironic narrative that a presumptive “model minority” is disadvantaged for the benefit of other minorities. Arguably, Asian Americans were played off against other racial minorities then. Maybe it is still happening, but with a new taint, pitting Asian Americans against others. I won’t be around for the updated narrative in 2065. But I want to be optimistic that racial diversification in other powerful American institutions will follow the changing demographics we are already seeing in America, and not just in our schools. At the same time, I hope that we will remember that we are all in this together.
Kwang Wei says
The Liberal Elite is hypocritical. How are Asian Americans doing in leadership or prominent roles in business, politics, arts, entertainment, sports or any field in the US? Asian Americans are not even important decision makers in Silicon Valley. Time for us to be less timid and be united as a political block. Also, we need to realize that the Elite Liberals in Harvard and other schools are not our friends. Sad.