Asians, Affirmative Action & the Ivy League: Fears, Quotas, Data and Debate

by College Fix Staff on December 20, 2012

The New York Times this week hosted a roundtable of columns tackling Asian Americans and affirmative action in Ivy League schools, honing in on topics such as fears, quotas and telling data.

The way the Old Gray Lady spins it, “determined to use educational opportunities as a road to advancement” (as if that’s a bad thing) “Asian-Americans have won a disproportionate number of spots at top … colleges that base admission on objective standards.” (Won a disproportionate number of spots? How dare Asians study so hard. That’s not fair!)

The paper goes on to note that “some (Asian Americans) have questioned how affirmative action programs might hurt their chances for admission, or say that the most competitive schools do not want to have too many Asian students. Are top colleges deliberately limiting the number of Asian-Americans they admit?”

The short answer is yes, argues Ron Unz, publisher of The American Conservative. He argues in his New York Times op-ed that:

“According to official statistics, the percentage of Asian-Americans enrolled at Harvard fell by more than 50 percent over the last two decades, while the percentage of whites changed little. This decline in relative Asian-American enrollment was actually larger than the impact of Harvard’s 1925 Jewish quota, which reduced Jewish freshmen from 27.6 percent to 15 percent.”

Another column published for the roundtable debate was S.B. Woo’s, founding president of the 80-20 National Asian American Educational Foundation. In it, he cites Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade’s  2009 book, “No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life,” that “to receive equal consideration by elite colleges, Asian Americans must outperform Whites by 140 points, Hispanics by 280 points, Blacks by 450 points in SAT (Total 1600).”

Woo goes on to tackle the effects of Asian student quotas:

“The creditability of elite colleges suffers. The administrators of these colleges may be steadfast in their righteous posturing. But as the truth emerges, fewer people are with them; more are shaking their heads and chuckling at their facade. The meritocracy of the American culture is compromised. America’s future is too important to allow race-conscious admission to continue hurting all of us.”

On the flip side, columns titled “Scores Aren’t the Only Qualification” and “Quotas Are Imaginary, the Need for Diversity is Real” argue the other side.

Click here to read the New York Times debate on the issue.

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