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affirmative action on the brink
Asian-Ivy War Continues

“The Asian problem” continues to be a thorn in the side of the diversity bureaucracy that runs America’s elite college campuses. The Wall Street Journal reports on the latest efforts by Asian-Americans to convince the authorities that affirmative action—at least as currently practiced—is essentially a repackaged form of anti-Asian discrimination, the successor to academia’s infamous anti-Jewish bias of the early-to-mid 20th century:

A coalition of Asian-American organizations asked the Department of Education on Monday to investigate Brown University, Dartmouth College and Yale University, alleging they discriminate against Asian-American students during the admissions process. […]

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.

This conflict will probably persist as long as affirmative action does (and with Justice Scalia’s passing, it seems unlikely that the Supreme Court will deal the body-blow to racial preferences that many admissions offices feared) because affirmative action partisans don’t have a clear or consistent answer to the Asian students’ concerns. Is affirmative action designed to give a boost to groups of people who have faced discrimination in the United States? Surely this applies to Asians as much as Hispanics. Is affirmative action designed to increase ethnic diversity? It’s unclear why Asian-Americans contribute less to the diversity project than other racial minorities. Is the apparent bias against academically qualified Asian applicants simply the result of a neutral “holistic” process that evaluates students on the basis of nebulous character traits? That is, of course, the precise justification Ivy League schools used to cap Jewish enrollment.

The core problem, as Dennis Safran has pointed out, is that the logic of affirmative action that applied in “the essentially biracial society of the 1970s” has become strained to the point of breaking in “the multiracial America of 2016,” where the number of identity groups with claims to marginalized status has multiplied, and where class status increasingly rivals racial status as a determinant of academic and professional success.

In the long run, however, the vituperative wars about the role of race in admissions probably distract from more important injustices in the higher education system. Prohibitive tuition costs—driven up by federal regulations, short-sighted student loan programs, and, to some extent, and campus diversity bureaucracies—probably present more of an obstacle to the Ivory Tower than race-based admissions policies for the vast majority of students. And degrees from the Ivy League still carry far too much cultural cachet, delivering special opportunities to their graduates not because of their talents but because of their access to elite social networks. If our society put less weight on where people went to college, the stakes in the racial preference debates would fall considerably. So as important as affirmative action is as a social and political issue, it should not distract from the fact that we have a higher education system that is fundamentally broken for students of every skin color.

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  • GS

    The whole “diversity” meme should be tossed out. What the students bring to the university is their more-or-less empty heads, to be filled there with suitable knowledge. Their “experiences”, etc. do not matter, do not “enrich” anything and only clutter the place, and best be left at the door, outside. Ideally, meritocratic admission should be done solely by the results of the college-administered entrance exams, from the top down. And if any group of applicants ends “over-represented” as a result, it is not “over” represented but “justly” represented, according to the abilities and aptitudes exhibited during examinations. The only sense the word combination “over-represented” makes sense is when over-representation is defined with regard to the underlying merit and abilities.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Let us kill this evil creature with the Left’s latest idiocy. Simply tell everyone to self-identify as ‘diverse’.

  • Fat_Man

    The great thing about affirmative action is how much racial harmony it has brought to American campuses.

  • Beauceron

    Asians make up 21% of Harvard and 22% of Princeton. Asians make up less than 5% of the US population.

    Asians have always supported the identity politics that have now taken over the country. They get benefits in minority hiring, scholarships, government contracts, etc. (the list of benefits bestowed on those for being a minority has grown too long to list).

    Now in one area where the focus on racial identity actually hurts them a bit, they want it overturned. Are they arguing that Asians should be taken off the rolls of the blessed, the sacred People Of Color beneficiaries? That they should no longer get special treatment in other areas?

    No, no, just in the one area where it isn’t good for them.

    This is not about justice or fairness. This is about a group having their cake and eating it too.

    No sympathy from me at all. Bunch of scumbags.

    • mrbuddwing

      “They get benefits in minority hiring, scholarships, government contracts, etc.”

      Care to cite a few examples, or are you just pulling these “facts” out of your … hat?

      • Beauceron

        Let’s take government contracts as our example.

        Asian americans benefit greatly from preferred treatment and official set asides in government contracting– federal, state and local. These are business opportunities that bar equal treatment. They literally set aside a certain percentage of business for people who have the right skin color or ethnic background.Our government has literally a dozen programs focused on helping Asian American businesses get those deals.

        If you want to end affirmative action programs, great. But you don’t get to argue for an end to affirmative action in the one area where it does not work for you, but still receive it in areas where it does.

    • Enemy Leopard

      Your post reminds me of an exchange between Reese Schonfeld (co-founder of CNN) and George Lincoln Rockwell (founder of the American Nazi Party). I’ll quote Wikipedia:

      “One of the reporters, Reese Schonfeld, asked Rockwell how he would treat Jews if he came to power in the United States. Rockwell replied he would treat Jews just as he treated any other American citizens. If they were loyal Americans, everything would be fine; if they were traitors, they would be executed. When Schonfeld asked what percentage of Jews Rockwell perceived as traitors, Rockwell replied, ‘Ninety percent.'”

      I don’t doubt that, if I asked you whether you think that Asians in the United States are all a bunch of scumbags, you’d tell me, no, of course not, just the ones who think they should get special treatment on account of their race. So let me ask the follow-up question: In your view, what percentage of them think they should get special treatment on account of their race and are, therefore, scumbags?

      • Beauceron

        What utter drivel.
        Who I think are scumbags are people who want a system to work one way as long as it has positive benefits for them, but if it affects them negatively in one particular area, they demand that one area alone be modified so that it still benefits them. That is despicable– and is despicable regardless of race or class or religion.
        If they want to be intellectually honest about this, they have to argue for a merit based system across the board. Here they’re arguing for a merit based system in college entrance exams only. I am all for that– but I am all for that in hiring and government contracts as well. Dispense with affirmative action. Period. Move to a merit based system and let the chips fall where they may. That will mean a lot more Asians in our best schools– but if you want to get into one of those schools, then study hard and don’t rely on a racial quota system.
        And immediately appealing to a completely inapposite analogy by dredging up Rockwell isn’t exactly ad Hitlerum, but it’s close enough to earn you the Moron Of The Internet Award for today. Congrats!

        • Enemy Leopard

          Answer the question, buddy.

      • lordlindley

        None of them.

  • Proud Skeptic

    Seems to me these folks were much easier to get along with when they were “Orientals”. LOL!!!!

  • Marin guy

    Diversity of thought is what is sorely needed on campus, not diversity of skin color. College applications should be processed with names and ethnicities left off. The only way to stop discrimination by race is to stop discriminating by race.

    • lordlindley

      names, ethnicities & sex?

      • Marin guy

        Good addition. Yes, any element that “subdivides” applicants in an attempt to discriminate against one in favor of another.

  • Yes, junk all racial quotas, and if the Asians run away with the universities, let ’em. They earned it. Only preference I would give is to in-state students over out-of-state, and citizens over aliens.

  • lordlindley

    By ‘Asian’ I presume you mean muslim, not Chinese, etc. They will never join in with discussion and mix because they are there to take over, not mix! I suggest you stop being a dewy eyed liberal who thinks everyone is lovely and look at the facts. Muslims are causing all the wars and terror in the world?

    • Tom

      Er…no. He means Asian. As in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc.

      • lordlindley

        OK. It’s just that in the UK the term ‘Asian’ is used whenever the press/TV are reporting incidents/crimes, when they mean Pakistani but daren’t be seen to pick on muslim peoples/countries. We now know what they mean, so its all a mind game.

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