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Physicist, Startup Founder, Blogger, Dad

Friday, November 02, 2012

"The bar is different ..."

The NYTimes on Asian-Americans and affirmative action. Asians rated only a couple of mentions in the Fisher v Texas oral arguments, and always by a conservative justice. I recommend the reader comments at the link (use the Reader Picks filter).
NYTimes: ... “If you look at the Ivy League, you will find that Asian-Americans never get to 20 percent of the class,” said Daniel Golden, author of “The Price of Admission” and editor at large for Bloomberg News. “The schools semiconsciously say to themselves, ‘We can’t have all Asians.’ ” Mr. Golden says it is helpful to think of Asians as the new Jews because some rules of college admissions, like geographic diversity, were originally aimed at preventing the number of Jews from growing too high.

Commenting on similar efforts involving Asian applicants, Rod Bugarin, a former admissions officer at Wesleyan, Brown and Columbia, said: “The bar is different for every group. Anyone who works in the industry knows that.” ...

More important, some argue, Asian-Americans themselves benefit from the campus diversity the system produces. Schools where admission is purely through a test, like the elite public New York City high school Stuyvesant, often have large percentages of Asian-Americans. The University of California at Berkeley and Los Angeles are more than half Asian. That doesn’t help them integrate effectively, to pierce what some call the bamboo ceiling in the corporate and political worlds.

[ These same people argue that a "critical mass" on campus is a good thing for minority groups ... ]
From the reader comments:
Asian Americans aren't mentioned often in the debate about affirmative action in this newspaper because they're the best argument against the policy existing in its current state. This is a group that faced extreme racial discrimination throughout their history in the United States and even had legal legislation passed against them, but has excelled despite little formal assistance from the federal government. And to be frank, this destroys the notion many of my liberal counterparts hold that previously oppressed minorities simply cannot make it without the government holding their hand.

And make no mistake that Asians are discriminated against.

http://www.usnews.com/education/articles/2009/10/07/do-elite-private-col...

"Espenshade found that when comparing applicants with similar grades, scores, athletic qualifications, and family history for seven elite private colleges and universities: Whites were three times as likely to get fat envelopes as Asians. Hispanics were twice as likely to win admission as whites. African-Americans were at least five times as likely to be accepted as whites." ...

##########

My mom didn't want me to marry an Asian girl because she feared her grandchildren would be discriminated against. Turned out she was absolutely right.

But unlike most of the kids applying to colleges from Stuyvesant HS, who are mostly Asians of one sort or another, my daughter has reluctantly and resentfully chosen to conceal her Asian identity in college application in the long-standing tradition of American strivers who are able to "pass."

For Stuy kids without that option, the combination of anti-Asian discrimination, inside-track admission policies for the children of celebrities and alumni and vast numbers of slots reserved for athletes, chances of admission to the elite universities become slim indeed, as admission numbers prove.

These kids, the best and brightest of New York City, have learned their lessons well, and know the game is rigged against them. ...
See also this earlier post: Asian hordes in NYTimes and WSJ.

8 comments:

Paul said...

"For Stuy kids without that option, the combination of anti-Asian discrimination, inside-track admission policies for the children of celebrities and alumni and vast numbers of slots reserved for athletes, chances of admission to the elite universities become slim indeed, as admission numbers prove."

This is a good comment and makes an important point, namely that affirmative action is just one facet of "unfair" admissions policies. Recruited athletes probably outnumber NAMs at many/most Ivy League and NESCAC schools. We've all heard the stories about woefully under-qualified children of celebrities, politicians or other bigwigs ("development cases" I believe is the term used by admissions officers). Of course you have the legacy boost as well as preference given to students whose parents are professors or high-level administrators (though I suspect that in a purely test-based system the percentage of legacy and faculty students would not go down so much).

And don't forget that in Espenshade's study working-class whites were disadvantaged too, at least compared to wealthy whites and working-class students of other ethnicities. Participation in activities such as 4-H and JROTC were major impediments to admission. Clearly there are class factors at work. Obviously the Supreme Court won't address these inequalities, but perhaps their decision will spark a movement at elite universities to reform admissions as a whole.

dwbudd said...

Steve, I just wish you would keep the above in mind when waxing poetic about President Obama, whose re-election is going to virtually guarantee that this continues...

Miley_Cyrax said...

What's that Asians, you'd like to be judged on the content of your character instead of the color of your skin? Too bad. Someone has to take one for the team to compensate for the underachievement of other population groups, and that someone is you.

Please feel satisfied with Obama wishing you a Happy Lunar New Year on YouTube, and ignore Obama and Holder championing the continual extortion of opportunities from you to blacks and latinos.

botti said...

***Asians rated only a couple of mentions in the Fisher v Texas oral arguments, and always by a conservative justice. ***

Yes, and as the Republican appointed Chief Justice noted: "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

Eric said...

Professor Hsu,
As an Asian American Stuyvesant alumnus, I found this to be the most troubling and offensive notion of the NY Times piece:
"More important, some argue, Asian-Americans themselves benefit from the campus diversity the system produces. Schools where admission is purely through a test, like the elite public New York City high school Stuyvesant, often have large percentages of Asian-Americans. The University of California at Berkeley and Los Angeles are more than half Asian. That doesn’t help them integrate effectively, to pierce what some call the bamboo ceiling in the corporate and political worlds."
"Some argue"?
The underlying claim seems to be that Asian American social status and identity can only be relational in greater American society, not autonomous. Is the same caveat placed on black or white aspiring American leaders whose formative adolescent experiences take shape in relatively homogenous racial settings? Or aspiring female leaders who attend one of the Seven Sisters? No, it's not. Yet somehow, a formative adolescent experience within an Asian American majority context is painted as a cripplling handicap. If that's how non-Asian Americans - including non-Asian minorities - view our relative worth, then I would rather we build the core of our status and identity from within than beg for acceptance from non-Asians who disrespect us.
I normally support diversity in principle, but I more oppose any initiative that assumes the notion that Asian Americans are second-class citizens. The SHSAT rank-order admissions process teaches Asian American children that they can improve their status based on their own merit and do not require the permission of non-Asians to rise and become first-class citizens. While the SHSAT is race neutral and cannot guarantee an Asian American majority, if it currently helps facilitate Stuyvesant as an oasis that liberates and empowers Asian American children to actualize their identity as autonomous Americans, then the current SHSAT rank-order admissions process is worth defending by the whole Asian American community.
Professor, for your information, I purposely no longer hyphenate the term 'Asian American', because 'Asian' is properly used as a descriptive adjective for a fully modal American. The hyphenated term 'Asian-American' implies we are a lesser sub-category of American. Removing the hyphen makes for a subtle distinction of concept, but I feel the distinction matters.
Eric

George Shen said...

My Jewish neighbor passed along a recent WSJ article on the rise of Asian Americans and the predicament they are facing from a Jewish perspective.

Rise of the Tiger Nation by Lee Siegel
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204076204578076613986930932.html

Iamexpert said...

Asians are not the only group that would benefit if college affirmative action ended. Caucasoid Gentiles would also see a large rise in admission.

RKU1 said...

Actually, the official statistics show that UCLA's only 34% Asian and Berkeley's only 37%, and neither has ever been much higher than about 40%. I suppose Asian students are so loud and boisterous, that 34% just seems like 54%...

Bronner used to be the NYT Education Editor, so he's obviously very careful to get all his facts exactly correct...

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