Colleges Discriminate Against Asians

Kevin Carey, policy director of Education Sector, asserts that, “given the opportunity, elite American universities are prone to implement discriminatory admissions policies that artificially limit the number of American students of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese descent.”  Matt Yglesias is stunned and rightly appalled: “We’re a country that congratulates itself on having dismantled Jim Crow and the system of ‘quotas’ that used to cap the number of Jewish students at top schools. But the quota system appears to have merely re-emerged with Asian-Americans as the victims. And nobody talks about it, though the discriminatory mechanisms are only slightly more subtle.”

Unfortunately, in the immediate aftermath of Jim Crow’s dismantling (Brown v. BOE, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965, etc.)  we quite reasonably decided that simply removing legal barriers to the advancement of formerly oppressed groups was not going to result in rapid changes.  To speed things along, we created affirmative action programs, school busing, and similar programs aimed at establishing something like a proportionate representation of racial minority groups in schools and other feeder systems.  Naturally, this was bureaucratized into quota systems so that progress could be measured.

While we quickly counterbalanced this, starting with the Bakke decision in 1978, educational institutions are still allowed and even encouraged to devise novel solutions to bring more blacks and Hispanics into the priviledged feeders — the Ivie and other elite private schools as well as the most prestigious state universities.  To the extent that slots are limited, this necessarily means that students from the most competitive groups — increasingly, East and South Asians — face higher barriers to entry.

Photo by Flickr user GodzillaRockit, used under Creative Commons license.

FILED UNDER: Education, Race and Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. odograph says:

    I’m more concerned with “bloat” at colleges than admissions at this point. Too much middle management, too many dead-end majors, too many departments supported by engorging General Education requirements.

  2. JKB says:

    Your newspeak is sorely dated. It is goals not quotas. Some 18 years ago the new EEO manager of the agency I worked at informed me that there were no longer quotas but rather goals. When I pointed out that a goal, in which you were punished or sanctioned for failing to meet, was a quota, he was not a happy camper. I, fortunately, avoided the mandatory reeducation seminars by providing technical assistance for his programs.

  3. None of this is news to me. The setting of higher standards/discriminatory admission policies towards Asians has been no secret for 15 years at least. I remember reading about it that long ago at least.

    More recently we have the case of Princeton who rejected a Chinese American applicant in spite of his having a perfect SAT score.

    Asians aren’t seen as ‘American’ or less wholesome than whites by the media or corporate America. How did Kristi Yamaguchi fare when it came to endorsement deals compared to Nancy Kerrigan after both got Olympic medals? Twice when Michelle Kwan failed to win an Olympic medal, major media organizations ran headlines like “American beats Kwan” or “American outshines Kwan.”

    Bigotry and discrimination towards Asians is very much alive. It just doesn’t get much attention and I’m afraid because much of the media thinks its acceptable.

  4. PD Shaw says:

    I attended a post-graduate school that prided itself on “looking like America.” And yeah, it was believed to be harder for Asian-Americans to gain admission because the pool of people with college degrees didn’t “look like America.”

    The diversity outcome was strange though. (And these are certainly generalizations) The Whites tended to be Jewish, which is sometimes considered a religious or ethnic minority. The Asian-Americans were mostly first-generation Americans, who had some of the most interesting and often challenging family backgrounds. The African-Americans tended to be from fairly bourgeoisie backgrounds, with a lot of children of doctors and lawyers among them.

  5. G.A.Phillips says:

    Being denied acceptance to a major university is a good thing, less of a chance of you turning into a liberal elitist/new age Nazi, or a half ass Republican liberal elitist/new age Nazi wannabe in todays intellectual climate of evolutionary stupidity.

  6. Steve Verdon says:

    This is news? I’ve known this for at least 15 years.

    Yet more proof that Yglesias is clueless.

  7. odograph says:

    I think I’ve told you this before … a woman I work with was scolding her nephew to study harder, when he said “but Auntie, I don’t want to be Asian!”

    That cuts on so many levels, that an auntie would think education was her responsibility, and that by age 10 or something her nephew would have figured it all out.

    That 20:20 show compared teenagers in the mid-west and in India, how hard they worked, and what their expectations were. In the west we expect(ed) a certain success just by being here.

    I think those Asian college students are a little global competition brought home. Better to step our game, than to just complain.

  8. I think those Asian college students are a little global competition brought home. Better to step our game, than to just complain.

    We rather whine and complain and possibly enact discriminatory policies. For instance, the LPGA English policy that was announced last summer and then dropped almost immediately after the uproar it caused. One prominent golf writer said it wasn’t coincidence that the policy’s timing came during a period of Asian domination of the tour.(Few remember that 2007 was hardly stellar year for Asian players on tour. 4 wins for the whole year)

  9. This is news? I’ve known this for at least 15 years.

    Do I here an echo in here?

  10. odograph says:

    This is news? I’ve known this for at least 15 years.

    Yet more proof that Yglesias is clueless.

    Note to self, Steve will never run a column on something he has known for 15 years 😉

  11. Steve Verdon says:

    Note to self, Steve will never run a column on something he has known for 15 years 😉

    Well, lets call it old news then that some clueless people need to be informed of. A casual glance of admissions at UCs and grades/GPAs by race would show that there was indeed discrimination.

  12. sam says:

    @ Steve V

    A casual glance of admissions at UCs and grades/GPAs by race would show that there was indeed discrimination.

    Not to gainsay your basic point, with which I agree, well within the 15-year period you refer to, we find this at Berkeley:

    Berkeley’s Asian Percentage Jumps to 45.2%

    The Asian American population at UC Berkeley rose from 41% of total undergraduate enrollment during the 1998-99 academic year to 45.2% for the 1999-2000 school year, putting it even with UCLA for the title of top Asian American University. Whites are 34.7% of UCB’s total undergraduate student population of 22,705. Also enrolled are 8,642 graduate students, bringing UCB’s total student population to 31,347.

    Source

  13. sam says:

    And if you click this link at the page cited, you’ll find this:

    UCLA: No 1 Asian American U

    UC Berkeley: No 2 Asian American U

    UC Irvine: No 3 Asian American U

    UC Davis: No 4 Asian American U

    UC San Diego: No 5 Asian American U

  14. Bithead says:

    So, this is to disprove there’s anti-asian discrimination?

    I wuld think the Michigan case would have brought this practice to an end, long ago.

  15. Steve Verdon says:

    Sam,

    No news here, I went to UCLA, and I still live in California. Prop 209 was on the ballot in 1996 and I recall that the projection would be it would raise the number of asians on UC campuses. So your numbers seem to fit with that.

  16. bill says:

    Many sources have told that the reason they limit the Asians….is every year they could fill the entire student body with Asians that were all more qualified than any of the other applicants and have some left.

  17. odograph says:

    Well, lets call it old news then that some clueless people need to be informed of. A casual glance of admissions at UCs and grades/GPAs by race would show that there was indeed discrimination.

    I notice the line above is “Matt Yglesias is stunned and rightly appalled”, but I don’t see any stunnage in the original piece.

    I see it more as a reminder of where we are (“But the fact itself is genuinely remarkable.”)

  18. Ahmed Mohamed says:

    There are Asians everywhere on my campus. And they are so humorless. Work, work, work…