Asian American students not in favor of affirmative action.
A coalition of Asian American groups have filed complaints today with the Department of Education against Brown University, Dartmouth College, and Yale University, alleging that Asian American students are discriminated in admissions against vis-a-vis “underrepresented minorities”, that is, blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans.
While the population of college age Asian-Americans has doubled in 20 years and the number of highly qualified Asian-American students “has increased dramatically,” the percentage accepted at most Ivy League colleges has flatlined, according to the complaint, reported The Wall Street Journal. It alleges this is because of “racial quotas and caps, maintained by racially differentiated standards for admissions that severely burden Asian-American applicants.”
The complaint is the latest in a long line against selective colleges on behalf of Asian-American applicants, but the Education Department has never found that schools are deliberately discriminating against members of that group. Last year the Education Department dismissed a complaint against Harvard University, deferring to the much-anticipated Supreme Court ruling on the race-conscious undergraduate admission policy at the University of Texas at Austin. Oral arguments for that case were heard in December.
The complaint filed Monday by the Asian-American Coalition for Education, which consists of more than 100 organizations, makes many of the same points as its predecessor against Harvard. It charges that the number of Asian-Americans at the three schools is capped and a special “just-for-Asians admissions standard” is in place. Admissions officers “often treat Asia-American applicants as a monolithic block rather than as individuals, and denigrate these applicants as lacking in creativity/critical thinking and leadership skills/risk taking,” reported the Journal.
In an accompanying petition, the group said it filed this complaint because even if it hits a legal wall it will generate social and political pressure. After the Department of Education started investigating Harvard in 1988, its admission rate of Asian-Americans jumped to 16.1% in 1991 from 10.8%. After students filed a complaint against Princeton in 2006, its admission rate increased to 25.4% in 2014 from 14.7% in 2007.
A group calling itself Asian Americans Advancing Justice, however, issued a statement on Monday saying it fully supports affirmative action in higher education.
The suit against Harvard last year cited third-party academic research on the SAT exam showing that Asian-Americans have to score on average about 140 points higher than white students, 270 points higher than Hispanic students and 450 points higher than African-American students to equal their chances of gaining admission to Harvard. The exam is scored on a 2400-point scale, reported the Journal.
The concentration of so many accomplished Asian-American students diminishes the odds of admission, said Nat Smitobol, a counselor at IvyWise, a New York-based college admissions service.
“It’s tougher for Asians to be successful because they’re competing against a pool that’s quite saturated,” said Smitobol.
He noted that international Chinese students are beginning to apply in greater numbers to non-STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs to improve their chances of acceptance.
The complaint, said a spokesman from Brown, is without merit.
The Voice of America reported that in response to the complaint, Yale says academic metrics are “not the sole determinants for admission,” while Dartmouth explains it “considers the whole person” when screening applicants.
The National Review, writing on the complaint, noted: “That much is admitted by the schools themselves. The question is whether the politically correct discrimination is so ham-handed that it violates the constraints the Supreme Court has put on it, and whether the discrimination against Asian Americans is likewise vis-a-vis whites, which remains politically incorrect. Still, the complaint is welcome, especially as we continue to await the Supreme Court’s decision in Fisher v. University of Texas, which one hopes will put still more constraints on all racial discrimination in university admission.”