Harvard Sued for Asian Quotas in Admissions

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Harvard Sued for Asian Quotas in Admissions

Post by pianoman »

A few years ago, a couple of studies came out using newly available data that show Asian applicants face higher admissions standards than other groups when applying to college. There has since been a large number of articles and secondary studies, but the study and two books that began the discussion were this Princeton study,The Price of Admission, by Daniel Golden and The Chosen, by Jerome Karabel. And if you haven't seen it, you should take a look at this long article by Ron Unz. Golden's book is actually a polemic for affirmative action. He set out to uncover the extent of "legacy" admits to counter the argument that affirmative action is favoritism, and in the process discovered that Asians are shut out from both sides. Karabel's book, as far as I understand, is a survey of admissions practices at Harvard, Princeton and Yale through the 20th century, and really focuses on his own group (Jews). I believe Karabel identifies what is going on with Asians in college admissions, but concludes that it is up to the universities themselves to define what "merit" is.

America is a litigious society, so it was inevitable that a lawsuit would arise from this:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/1 ... 74288.html
Harvard And UNC Sued Over Race-Based Admission Policies
AP | By Philip Marcelo
Posted: 11/17/2014 5:41 pm EST Updated: 11/17/2014 5:59 pm EST

BOSTON (AP) -- Lawsuits filed Monday against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill argue that affirmative action policies should be banned at colleges across the nation.

The federal suits allege Harvard and UNC rely on race-based affirmative action policies that impact admissions of high-achieving white and Asian American students. The Harvard lawsuit also contends that the Ivy League university specifically limits the number of Asian Americans it admits each year.

The Project on Fair Representation, an Alexandria, Virginia-based legal defense fund, said Monday's filings will be the first in a series of legal challenges against colleges across the country in an effort to ban race-based admission policies outright.

"Allowing this issue to be litigated in case after case will only perpetuate the hostilities that proper consideration of race is designed to avoid," state the lawsuits, both of which cite "Students for Fair Admissions" as plaintiff, a nonprofit group based in Austin, Texas made up of recently rejected applicants, prospective students and parents. "Racial preferences are a dangerous tool and may only be used as a last resort."

Both universities defended their admission policies Monday, noting that they are fully compliant with federal law.

"(T)he university continues to affirm the educational benefits diversity brings to students, as well as the importance of preparing students for a diverse society and assuring a pool of strong state leaders by admitting undergraduates from every background," said UNC-Chapel Hill spokesman Rick White.

Harvard University's General Counsel Robert Iuliano pointed out that the Supreme Court's landmark 1978 decision in Regents of University of California v. Bakke, which upheld affirmative action, specifically cited Harvard's admissions plan as a "legally sound approach" to admissions.

"Then and now, the college considers each applicant through an individualized, holistic review having the goal of creating a vibrant academic community that exposes students to a wide-range of differences: background, ideas, experiences, talents and aspirations," he said.

But the lawsuit against Harvard argues that the "holistic approach" the school touts is a large part of the problem.

"Statistical evidence reveals that Harvard uses `holistic' admissions to disguise the fact that it holds Asian Americans to a far higher standard than other students and essentially forces them to compete against each other for admission," the lawsuit argues.

The lawsuit goes on to allege that Harvard is engaging in "racial balancing," enrolling the "essentially the same percentage" of African Americans, Hispanics, whites, and Asian Americans year after year, even though the application rates and qualifications for each racial group have undergone significant changes over time.

"Harvard's remarkably stable admissions and enrollment figures over time are the deliberate result of system wide intentional racial discrimination designed to achieve a predetermined racial balance of its student body," the lawsuit states.

The lawsuits conclude that "race neutral" policies -- such as giving greater consideration to a prospective student's socio-economic background and boosting financial aid, scholarships and minority candidate recruitment efforts -- can promote diversity better than affirmative action.

Elite schools should also stop giving preference to so-called "legacy" students and offering early admission deadlines, both of which tend to hurt low income and minority applicants and favor wealthy and white ones, the lawsuits suggests.
The Project on Fair Representation website is here. Strangely, many Asians have come out against the lawsuit, most notably perhaps Jeff Yang, a Harvard alum who writes for the Wall Street Journal: Jeff Yang, Harvard lawsuit is not what it seems. However, several other voices have appeared in defense of the suit, some of the best being this op-ed in the Times, and this article that defends standardized testing in general.

The lawsuit has very little chance of forcing elite schools to abandon opaque "holistic" admissions criteria entirely. However, the level of discrimination against Asian applicants at top schools appears to be quite severe; by all accounts it has become worse, maybe several times so, since the Department of Education investigated Harvard for the same thing back in the early 90s. Harvard is at the top of the academic food chain. If Harvard is forced to alter its criteria, become more transparent, or simply raise its quota for Asians, it will have a profound effect on every other major university in this country, and on the growing Asian-American population already living here and its role in American society, or what some might call AA's "invisibility."

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Re: Harvard Sued for Asian Quotas in Admissions

Post by pianoman »

This is actually a separate legal action:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/ ... -americans
Harvard Faces Admissions Bias Complaint From Asian-Americans

by Janet Lorin
9:55 AM CDT
May 15, 2015

A coalition of more than 60 Asian-American groups filed a federal discrimination complaint against Harvard University, claiming racial bias in undergraduate admissions.

Asian-American students with almost perfect college entrance-exam scores, top 1 percent grade-point averages, academic awards and leadership positions are more likely to be rejected than similar applicants of other races, according to their administrative complaint, filed Friday with the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. Harvard denies any discrimination.

Their complaint, also filed with the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, reflects longstanding concern among academically high-performing Asian-Americans that they are held to a higher admissions standard at elite U.S. colleges. While they represent about 6 percent of the U.S. population and 21 percent of students admitted to Harvard’s freshman class this fall, they say they are being subjected to the kind of quotas that kept many Jews out of the same institutions in the first half of the 20th century.

“So many in the Asian-American community have not spoken out,” said Yukong Zhao, 52, an executive at an engineering company and author of a book about Chinese culture who helped organize the groups filing the complaint. “We’ve been largely silent for 20 years.”

‘Holistic Review’

The coalition represents organizations such as the Houston Chinese Alliance, the Pakistan Policy Institute and the Sino Professionals Association, according to the complaint. It didn’t cite any individuals who had allegedly faced discrimination.

While Harvard officials hadn’t seen the complaint, Robert Iuliano, the school’s general counsel said in a statement that the college’s admissions policies comply fully with the law and are essential to the school’s mission.

“The college considers each applicant through an individualized, holistic review having the goal of creating a vibrant academic community that exposes students to a wide range of differences: background, ideas, experiences, talents and aspirations,” Iuliano said.

Affirmative Action

Iuliano cited a landmark 1978 Supreme Court decision on affirmative action that referred to Harvard’s admission plan as an example of a legally sound approach. The treatment of Asian-Americans has factored into the debate over racial preferences for groups such as blacks and Hispanics, which survived a high court challenge in 2013.

The filing marks the second complaint about admissions at Harvard in six months. Last year, Students for Fair Admissions Inc., a group which said it represents unidentified college applicants, filed a pending federal lawsuit in Boston against Harvard’s governing board, alleging that the school illegally limited admissions of Asian-Americans.

The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights first examined Harvard’s handling of Asian-American applicants more than 20 years ago. It turned up stereotyping by Harvard evaluators, such as this comment about one Asian-American candidate: “He’s quiet and, of course, wants to be a doctor.”

Higher Scores

It also documented that Harvard admitted Asian-Americans at a proportionally lower rate than white applicants even though the Asian-Americans had slightly stronger SAT scores and grades. The agency concluded in 1990 that Harvard didn’t violate civil rights laws because preferences for alumni children and recruited athletes, rather than racial discrimination, accounted for the gap. The new complaint also says Asian-Americans suffer in admissions from stereotyping, such as a belief they lack creativity.

Princeton Investigation

In 2011, a rejected Asian-American student filed a complaint with the Education Department against Harvard and Princeton University that was withdrawn the next year. The Education Department’s civil-rights division still has an open investigation against Princeton, stemming from complaints in 2006 and 2008, which included an allegation that the school discriminated against students of Asian background in admissions, according to the Department.

Princeton said it doesn’t discriminate and considers each applicant individually in enrolling a class “that is both excellent and diverse.” A spokesman said the school makes decisions on “a case by case basis.”

Last year, Asian-Americans had the highest mean scores of any racial group on the math and writing sections of the SAT college entrance exam, according to the College Board, the New York nonprofit that administers the exam. On the reading section, they outscore all but white students, whom they lagged only slightly on average. They also win more than their share of academic competitions, the complaint said.

Lower Expectations

Asian-Americans represent 5.6 percent of the U.S. population. At Harvard, Asian-Americans made up 21 percent of the freshman class admitted in March, more than any other group apart from whites. In 2006, the percentage was was 17.7. Harvard this year accepted 5.3 percent of all applicants, second to Stanford University in its selectivity, the schools said.

Asian-American high-school students have lower expectations for getting into top colleges because of their race, said Chunyan Li, an assistant accounting professor at Pace University, who helped recruit groups to join the complaint.

“That to me, as a mother, is really hurtful,” said Li, 46, who has two teenage children. “It is easier for people to rationalize that they are not working hard enough than saying there is systematic discrimination.”

‘Sea Change’

The coalition cited research from a 2009 book co-authored by Thomas Espenshade, an economist and senior scholar at the office of Population Research at Princeton University.

If all other credentials are equal, Asian-Americans need to score 140 points more than whites, 270 points higher than Hispanics, and 450 points above African-Americans out of a maximum 1,600 on the math and reading SAT to have the same chance of admission to a private college, the book found.

In an interview, Espenshade said more evidence is needed to prove that Asian-Americans are facing discrimination because the schools evaluate “soft information” such as essays and teacher recommendations. Still, the mounting complaints from Asian-Americans represent a “sea change.”

“In some sense, they’re moving into the mainstream of American democratic participation,” Espenshade said. Once-isolated voices “have become a crescendo.”

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Re: Harvard Sued for Asian Quotas in Admissions

Post by pianoman »

Here's another article with some very good points. It is true that affirmative action policies generally benefit privileged underrepresented minorities, and that it does very little to help those that are economically disadvantaged. It is also true that discrimination against Asian applicants can be demonstrated separately from the issue of affirmative action preferences for black and Latino applicants. This article is also the only one I've seen that brings up the issue that there may be a gender bias in admissions making it even harder for Asian men to be admitted than Asians as a whole.

Many Asian political groups have come out in opposition to the lawsuit and claim.

Asian American Groups File Complaint Against Harvard
May 17, 2015
by Catherine Morris

A coalition of more than 60 Asian American organizations filed an official federal complaint against Harvard University on Friday. The coalition requested that Harvard be the subject of a civil rights violation investigation on the basis of what the coalition is calling discriminatory admissions practices.

At a press conference held Friday afternoon, coalition leaders said that holistic, race-based admissions policies hold Asian American students to higher standards than all other racial or ethnic groups. They called on Ivy League schools to eliminate the consideration of race in admissions decisions. In addition, the coalition said that Harvard University has an unlawful quota for the number of Asian American students it will admit.

Michael Wang, an Asian American student currently enrolled at Williams College, said at the press conference that he was denied admittance to Harvard and other Ivy League schools due to his race, despite his excellent academic and extracurricular qualifications.

“When our admissions offices set these standards and quotas, we don’t feel proud of being Asian anymore, and that’s not correct. See, all races should be equal to each other,” Wang said, adding that he filed complaints against Princeton, Yale, and Stanford but did not get the results he sought.

At the press conference, coalition leaders stated that Asian Americans have suffered the most due to Harvard’s holistic admissions policies, followed by White students, while some Blacks and Hispanics have received preferential treatment.

Among the various critiques of race-based admissions posed at the press conference, coalition leaders argued that affirmative action policies do not actually benefit the intended targets of such policies—low-income, minority students. Coalition leaders said that, instead, affirmative action policies created a “privileged class” of middle-class Blacks and Hispanics in college admissions.

“[Ivy League universities] achieve racial diversity by getting international students from Africa, from middle-class African [American] and Latino communities. It’s not really addressing the real issue of poverty in secondary education,” said Dr. Chunyan Li, the event host. “So I thought our effort is not just for Asian Americans; it should be asking the entire country to look into how we address the real issues in secondary education.”

Although no Hispanic or African-American groups signed on to join the coalition, Yukong Zhao, chair of the coalition organizing committee, said that he reached out to urban leagues and City Year, an Americorps Program. Regarding African-Americans and Hispanics, Zhao said, “We have a heart. We care about them.” Other coalition leaders expressed similar concerns about the limitations of poverty that are hindering educational and economic progress from some communities in the United States.

Laura Yingying Sun, president of the Houston Chinese Alliance, said that she is involved with the Chinese American Relief Effort (CARE), which has been working with low-income schools in the Houston area since 1993. Each year, CARE chooses one or two local elementary schools where more than 90 percent of the students are economically disadvantaged, and donates a year’s worth of school supplies to each enrolled student. “We care about changing the opportunities [available] for everyone, not only Asian Americans,” Sun said.

The coalition itself is a new entity, created in February 2015. Member groups come from all across the United States. The coalition appears to have strong ties to Students from Fair Admissions (SFFA), a group that is the plaintiff in a lawsuit filed against Harvard University in 2014. The lawsuit’s allegations are much the same as the coalition’s complaints, arguing that Harvard has a quota for Asian Americans, among other unlawful practices.

Edward Blum, an affirmative action opponent, is orchestrating the Harvard lawsuit. He was also the architect of Abigail Fisher’s case against the University of Texas. Fisher argued that she was denied admittance to UT because of discriminatory affirmative action policies.

At the end of the press conference, coalition leaders invited all Asian Americans who felt they had been discriminated against to share their complaints with them or with SFFA.

A handful of political leaders have expressed support of the coalition’s goals. So far, those who have spoken out in favor skew toward the extreme right-wing.

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) made an appearance at the press conference to say that he was in favor of the coalition’s goals. He noted that similar issues had come up 20 years ago regarding Asian Americans and affirmative action.

“The issue was obscured and then forgotten, and during that time period, thousands of Asian American students have actually suffered damage in that they have not had the educational rights that they deserve, and instead we just let them go,” Rohrabacher said. “Today is the first step toward correcting that bad situation.”

Li said that coalition leaders met with Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) prior to the press conference and plan to meet with others.

The two Asian American Commissioners of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Michael Yaki and Karen Narasaki, issued a joint statement Friday morning in response to the coalition’s request for a federal investigation of Harvard’s alleged civil rights violations. “While we have not reviewed the actual complaint against Harvard University, we hope that this is a sincerely raised issue and not a back door attack on affirmative action that attempts to pit Asian Americans against other minorities, as other efforts have been,” the Commissioners wrote. “Like a majority of Asian Americans, we stand together as long-time supporters of affirmative action.”

The Commissioners added that they did not believe that any racial or ethnic group should be subjected to admissions quotas but also noted, “… nor do we believe that test scores alone entitle anyone to admission at Harvard. Students are more than their test scores and grades.”

Harvard’s General Counsel Robert Iuliano responded to the coalition’s complaint in a statement released on the Harvard Public Affairs and Communications website Friday morning. Iuliano wrote, “… within its holistic admissions process, and as part of its effort to build a diverse class, Harvard College has demonstrated a strong record of recruiting and admitting Asian American students. For instance, the percentage of admitted Asian American students admitted to Harvard College has increased from 17.6 percent to 21 percent over the past decade.”

Iuliano also noted that Harvard’s admissions process has already undergone an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights and found to be compliant with federal law, following a similar complaint on behalf of Asian Americans.

On Thursday, more than 130 Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) groups signed on to a petition supporting equal opportunity in higher education. The petition was circulated days before the coalition press conference and is intended as a rebuttal to the coalition’s goals. At the press conference, representatives of Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ), an Asian American advocacy group, asked coalition leaders to sign the petition. Coalition leaders refused, saying that, until race is removed as a factor in affirmative action policies, they would not sign the petition.

“Our feeling is that a complaint like this that [hinges on] discrimination is really a codeword for dismantling affirmative action,” Carl Hum, AAAJ vice president of policy and programs, told Diverse. “If there are discriminatory practices, then what are those discriminatory practices? The only thing they can point to right now are statistics that are pointed toward other racial groups.”

Coalition leaders also said that it is even more difficult for Asian American men to get into Ivy League schools than their female counterparts, indicating that Asian American men are subject to both racial and gender discrimination. They suggested that Asian American men might be the defendants in a future lawsuit.

“This morning when we were meeting with Congresswoman Foxx, she did mention there might be a lawsuit on gender discrimination,” Li said.

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Re: Harvard Sued for Asian Quotas in Admissions

Post by pianoman »

The Internet makes it really easy to find articles on a given subject. I'll just post one more for now, from a slightly different angle:
http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/20 ... story.html
To get into elite colleges, some advised to ‘appear less Asian’

As lawsuits allege racial quotas at elite colleges, high-achieving applicants call on consultants to help win admission — and receive guidance on minimizing their ethnicity

By Bella English GLOBE STAFF JUNE 01, 2015

Brian Taylor is director of Ivy Coach, a Manhattan company that advises families on how to get their students into elite colleges. A number of his clients are Asian American, and Taylor is frank about his strategy for them.

“While it is controversial, this is what we do,’’ he says. “We will make them appear less Asian when they apply.”

That a hard working, high achieving Asian-American student would want to appear less Asian on a college application may seem counterintuitive. But Asian-American students already make up a disproportionate percentage of the student body at many select schools, compared to their share of the general population.

And that’s the problem.

Some call it “the bamboo ceiling” of racial quotas, telling stories of Asian-American students with perfect SAT scores and GPAs turned down by elite colleges who limit the number of Asians they will admit, effectively forcing them to face a higher bar for admissions than other racial groups, including whites.

In response, groups of Asians have filed lawsuits against top schools, including one on May 15 by a coalition accusing Harvard and other Ivy League institutions of using racial quotas to admit lesser qualified candidates over Asians.

And some families are turning to consultants who offer services aimed at helping their students stand out from the competition and avoid what James Chen calls “the Asian penalty” in admissions.

Chen founded Asian Advantage College Consulting 20 years ago in response to what he considers bias against top Asian students in elite college admissions. His firm, which is based in Alameda, Calif., also has clients on the East Coast, he says, including Boston.

“The admissions officers are seeing a bunch of people who all look alike: high test scores, high grades, many play musical instruments and tend not to engage in more physical sports like football,” Chen says.

If students come to him early in high school, Chen will direct them to “switch to another musical instrument” or “play a sport a little bit out of their element.”

And for the college essay, don’t write about your immigrant family, he tells them: “Don’t talk about your family coming from Vietnam with $2 in a rickety boat and swimming away from sharks.”

One of Chen’s New York clients is a girl who attended a top public examination high school in the city, where more than half the class is Asian. She got a perfect score on her SAT, was valedictorian, class president, and captain of the badminton team.

Her father, who asked that the family not be identified, told the Globe that he contacted Asian Advantage when his daughter was a sophomore. He and his wife emigrated from China, and their daughter was born here. “In general, we have the impression that it’s not easy for Asian Americans to apply to college,” he said.

Chen said that he worked with the teenager to “deemphasize the Asianness in her resume.” She played the piano, but he encouraged her to participate in musical theater. Badminton was a no-no on her college app: Too many Asian students play racquet sports. Ditto for Asian Club. And she was to avoid saying that she was interested in biology or wanted to be a doctor.

“She put down social sciences,” Chen says.

She was accepted early admission into Harvard.

At Ivy Coach, much of the advice Taylor offers his clients echoes that of Chen. Be careful, he tells them, to avoid appearing like a “grade grubber”: “Schools don’t want students who care too much about their grades. They want kids who love learning.”

Ivy Coach offers an “unlimited package” for students for $100,000, which includes helping them throughout high school with all aspects of their college applications: testing, essays, letters of recommendation.

The Asian controversy is another aspect in the complex and charged debate over diversity and privilege in higher education. Some schools and education advocates say affirmative action and diversity should be defined by socioeconomic class as much as race or ethnicity. And many also point out that, despite stereotypes, there is wide diversity within the Asian demographic: those from India, China, and southeast Asia differ greatly from one another.

It was a different story when the parents themselves were applying to college. Joe Chow didn’t feel hampered 40 years ago by the fact that he was Asian. In fact, it helped him.

“In the early 1970s, Asian-Americans were really an underrepresented minority,” he says. “So we benefited from the civil rights movement.” Chow graduated from Brandeis University and earned his MBA at MIT.

Chow and his wife Selina, who is board president of Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, encouraged their children to focus on English, speech, and performance.

“Our family is not totally traditional from an Asian perspective,” says Chow, a retired executive vice president at State Street who lives in Brookline. “Selina and I are much more comfortable with our children getting a good liberal arts education.”

Their oldest daughter went to Northwestern University, their son to Skidmore, and their youngest daughter is a junior at Colby College. Some of their Asian friends have questioned why they “wasted their time” on liberal arts over math and science.

At Ivy Coach, some of the toughest work is with the parents. “Asian-Americans are extremely competitive among each other,” Taylor says. “They want to impress.” Few such parents refer his firm to one another. “No one wants others to know they’re using us. But we always get the siblings and the cousins.” LOL

That brand of hard-nosed ambition has paid dividends. The number of high-achieving Asian-American students applying to the top schools has soared in the past decade. According to the Pew Research Center, Asians are among the highest-income, best-educated, and fastest-growing groups in the nation.

At Princeton, 21 percent of the Class of 2018 is Asian American; Harvard’s is 20 percent. But the point raised by the lawsuits is that there are even more qualified Asian students who want to get into such selective schools. Asians make up about 5 percent of the US population.

“I think the successful Asian population has reached a tipping point,” says Elliot Place, who runs 1on1 Educational Consulting in Hingham. Just like high-achieving students of all ethnicities, Asians “have learned how to master the SAT, and they’ve mastered math and science. I think they’re frustrated that this doesn’t show up in their acceptance letters.”

The question now being asked by parents and students — and even attorneys: Is it discrimination or diversity that is bedeviling them?

The recent complaint by more than 60 Asian organizations against the Ivies called for an investigation and an end to racial quotas or balancing. The groups say that they are facing the kind of quotas that limited the number of Jews in the nation’s best schools through the middle of the 20th century.

In a 2014 lawsuit against Harvard and the University of North Carolina, the nonprofit Students For Fair Admission allege that both schools discriminate against Asian applicants in favor of less qualified African-American and Latino students. The suit cited a 2009 Princeton University study of seven top colleges that concluded an Asian applicant needed an average 1460 SAT score to be admitted, while whites with similar academic qualifications needed 1320, Hispanics 1190, and blacks 1010.

Harvard’s general counsel, Robert Iuliano, defended the school’s admissions policy. “As the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized, a class that is diverse on multiple dimensions, including on race, transforms the educational experience of students from every background and prepares our graduates for an increasingly pluralistic world,” he said.

And not all Asian Americans support the legal actions. Some groups released statements supporting affirmative action. “Neither of us believes that any racial or ethnic group should be subjected to quotas,” said Karen Narasaki and Michael Yaki, who serve on the US Commission on Civil Rights. “Nor do we believe that test scores alone entitle anyone to admission at Harvard. Students are more than test scores and grades.”

Julie J. Park is an education professor at the University of Maryland and author of the book, “When Diversity Drops: Race, Religion, and Affirmative Action in Higher Education.” Despite a 1520 SAT score and many extracurriculars, she was rejected by Harvard and ended up at Vanderbilt on a full-tuition, “affirmative-action-based scholarship.”

She says that she understood the rejection: “Harvard did not necessarily need more students like me. Vanderbilt did.”

While she understands parent and student frustrations over rejections, Park says she doesn’t believe that they understand the numbers. “I’m not sure that people really get that so many students of all races get rejected,” she says.

Last year, Harvard had 37,305 applicants for 1,990 seats for the Class of 2019; Stanford chose 2,144 out of 42,487 applicants.

At Newton North High School, whose student body is 12 percent Asian, college and career counselor Brad MacGowan says he hasn’t heard complaints from Asian-American students about being singled out. “I don’t see a victim mentality around that,” he says. “The students looking at colleges here are doing really well and they realize it’s competitive for everybody.”

At Milton Academy, Rod Skinner agrees that the pressure is not exclusive to Asian students. “It’s playing itself out across all kinds of high-achieving pools of kids,” says Skinner, director of college counseling. “It all comes down to, how do you make yourself distinctive? What else do you have, basically?”

Joey Kim of Chicago was one of those accepted at Harvard. His parents and sister came to his graduation last week. Kim, 23, had also been accepted into other elite schools, including Yale.

Yes, he had top SATs and a stellar GPA, was first violinist in his high school orchestra — and had come here from Korea at age 8 with not a word of English. What set him apart from other Asian-American applicants?

“I fell in love with theater in high school, and did a lot of drama productions, and speech,” he says.

Does he feel there’s an Asian disadvantage at select colleges? “It’s hard for me to say because I came in on the right side of that,” he says. “I’m personally caught in between the tension of having a diverse campus here, which I witnessed and is a good thing, but at the same time I feel for those kids who are caught in the nerve-wracking position of achieving but not getting in.”

His sister is one of them. Jessica, 18, applied to 10 top schools and got into 5. “I didn’t get into Yale and Harvard, and was wait-listed at Princeton,” she says. She’ll attend the University of Pennsylvania in the fall.

While pleased with her acceptance, she notes classmates from other ethnic groups with qualifications similar to hers got into schools that rejected her. “For the most part, I think it [being Asian] hurt me,” she says.

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Re: Harvard Sued for Asian Quotas in Admissions

Post by pianoman »

The federal discrimination complaint, but not the Project on Fair Representation lawsuits, was dismissed on the grounds that the two legal actions serve the same purpose:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/ ... department
Education Department Dismisses Harvard Asian-American Discrimination Complaint

by Janet Lorin
July 7, 2015 — 1:46 PM CDT

The U.S. Education Department dismissed a complaint against Harvard University alleging discrimination against Asian-American applicants in undergraduate admissions because a similar case is pending in federal court.

The department’s Office for Civil Rights rejected the complaint filed in May by more than 60 Asian-American groups, according to a letter from the agency obtained by Bloomberg. OCR confirmed the complaint was dismissed on June 3.

“We are very disappointed, but we won’t stop the fight,” Yukong Zhao, who helped organize the groups filing the complaint, said in an interview. “We will continue to pursue equal rights for Asian-American students.”

A spokeswoman for Harvard didn’t have an immediate comment. In May, General Counsel Robert Iuliano said in a statement that the college’s admissions policies comply fully with the law.

The coalition said Asian-American students are held to higher standards because of their race and that students with almost perfect entrance-exam scores, top 1 percent grade-point averages, academic awards and leadership positions were more likely to be rejected than similar applicants of other races.

Students for Fair Admissions Inc., a separate group representing unidentified college applicants, filed a lawsuit against Harvard administrators in U.S. District Court in Boston in November alleging the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based school limited admissions of Asian-Americans. Harvard denied the claims.

Harvard College accepted a record-low 5.3 percent of more than 37,000 applications for a seat in this year’s freshman class.

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Re: Harvard Sued for Asian Quotas in Admissions

Post by pianoman »

The Supreme Court began deliberating today on what I believe is an appeal of an older case involving the University of Texas and a white applicant named Abigail Fisher. Here is an op-ed piece from the New York Post that references the lawsuit against Harvard and makes another very important argument about affirmative action: that students who attend a college or university that is at their level of academic preparation do better and learn more than students who are given affirmative action dispensations and are admitted to programs they are not prepared to attend:

http://nypost.com/2015/12/08/college-qu ... inorities/
College quotas are actually destroying lives of minorities

By Betsy McCaughey
December 8, 2015 | 7:52pm

Today the US Supreme Court hears a constitutional challenge to racial preferences in college admissions. These preferences obviously hurt whites and Asians turned down to make room for less qualified minorities, but ironically, the preferences also harm many Hispanics and African-Americans — the very students they’re supposed to help.

No wonder campuses are roiled with racial tension. It’s high time the court put a stop to racial preferences entirely.
Abigail Fisher, a white woman who sued the University of Texas for rejecting her in 2008, claims the university’s admissions process unconstitutionally favored minority applicants, violating her right to equality under the law. Like affirmative-action programs everywhere, the school claims it judges each applicant “holistically.” Don’t buy it.

For University of Texas applicants, simply being born black or Hispanic gets you points for “achievement,” even if your parents are wealthy bankers. Being born white or Asian gets you zip. It’s similar at Harvard, which is being sued in another case. In defense, Harvard says “when choosing among academically qualified applicants,” colleges need “freedom and flexibility to consider each person’s unique background.”

That’s doubletalk. Many minorities admitted to elite schools based on race aren’t “academically qualified.”

A survey of selective colleges by UCLA professor Richard Sander documented that students who get in based on race tend to earn lower grades and are less likely to graduate. At less demanding colleges, they’d have a better chance to succeed.

They’re in over their heads.

But not in California, which outlawed racial preferences in 1996. Minority students now are more apt to attend lower-ranked public colleges but twice as likely to graduate.

Gail Heriot, a member of the US Commission on Civil Rights, points to “mounting empirical evidence” that admitting students based on race is “doing more harm than good.”

That poignant lesson seems lost on administrators at elite universities who boast of large minority enrollments.
Racial preferences in law school admissions put many minorities on the failure track. At selective law schools, 51 percent of African-American first-year students admitted with racial preferences had grades in the bottom 10 percent of their class, compared with only 5 percent of white students.

It’s one thing to be at the bottom of the class, but, Heriot explains, “It is quite another for an African-American student to find himself toward the bottom of the class and to find half of his African-American friends and acquaintances there too.” It stokes bitterness and feelings of injustice.

Minority students struggling academically tend to segregate themselves from other students. And turn to nonacademic pursuits — like campus protests. This fall’s protesters at the University of Missouri, Princeton, Harvard and Yale are demanding “safe spaces” for black students only.

In previous decades, students protested the Vietnam War or economic inequality. Today, they whine about perceived racial slights. Imagine being admitted to an Ivy League college and then complaining about the names on the buildings — John Calhoun at Yale or Woodrow Wilson at Princeton (as if anyone who lived more than a century ago would pass muster by today’s values).

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas warned from personal experience about the harm to minority students: “I watched the operation of such affirmative-action policies when I was in college, and I watched destruction of many kids as a result.”

Of course, the justices hearing the Texas case will focus on the harm done to students excluded because they aren’t favored minorities. Whites like Abigail Fisher, but also Asians.

Like Harvard and many universities, the University of Texas limits Asian students, even though they have the highest test scores. Asian-American groups label that “racist” and remind the court, “It demeans the dignity and worth of a person to be judged by ancestry instead of his or her own merit and essential qualities.”

It’s also unconstitutional. Now’s the time for the justices to say so unambiguously, and put a stop to it.

Betsy McCaughey is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research.
The book the author mentions is here:

http://www.amazon.com/Mismatch-Affirmat ... 0465029965

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Re: Harvard Sued for Asian Quotas in Admissions

Post by pianoman »

Here's another article making the same point. I believe the author here is African-American:

http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/13/opinions/ ... index.html
Actually, Scalia had a point
By John McWhorter
Updated 10:41 PM ET, Sun December 13, 2015

(CNN)Those who consider themselves on black people's side are having a field day dismissing Justice Antonin Scalia as a racist. His sin was suggesting that black students admitted to the most selective institutions might perform better at somewhat less selective institutions where instruction is paced more slowly.

I don't usually agree with Justice Scalia's perspectives, but we are doing him wrong on this one. Scalia didn't express himself as gracefully as he could have. No one could suppose that anything like all black students find the pedagogical pace at top-level universities overwhelming.

However, Scalia's comment stemmed not from random intuition but from research showing that a substantial number of black students would do better -- and be happier -- at schools less selective than the ones they are often admitted to via racial preferences.

The reading public's response to Scalia's point shows that few have any idea of this research or assume it was done by partisan zealots. An intelligent discussion of the Fisher v. University of Texas case now before the Supreme Court requires a quick tour of the facts.

Affirmative action's impact

First we need to clear some weeds away.

It's often thought that affirmative action at universities means admissions committees considering racial diversity only after assembling a pool of students with the same caliber of grades and test scores. Few reasonable people would have a problem with that kind of system, but it isn't what animates critics of racial preferences. Rather, the question is whether black and Latino students should be admitted on the basis of diversity with lower grades and test scores than the levels that would admit a white or Asian student.

There is no question that this has been common. It was most widely aired during the Grutter case against the University of Michigan. The question was not whether black undergraduates were regularly admitted with lower grades and scores, but whether this was appropriate. Also, the very fact of studies addressing what is called the "mismatch" between their dossiers and the schools they are admitted to demonstrates that the mismatch, itself, is real.

Now, at this point, many object that despite the mismatch, the students excel nevertheless. Here is the rub: the data is in, and in crucial ways and too often, they do not.

At Duke University, economist Peter Arcidiacono, with Esteban Aucejo and Joseph Hotz, has shown that the "mismatch" lowers the number of black scientists. Black students at a school where teaching is faster and assumes more background than they have often leave the major in frustration, but would be less likely to have done so at a school prepared to instruct them more carefully.

UCLA law professor Richard Sander conclusively showed in 2004 that "mismatched" law students are much more likely to cluster in the bottom of their classes and, especially, to fail the bar exam. Meanwhile, Sander and Stuart Taylor's book argues that the mismatch problem damages the performance of black and brown students in general.

There are scholars who dispute Sander and Taylor's thesis about undergraduate school in general. However, when it comes to the more specific points about STEM subjects and law school, takedown arguments are harder to fashion because of the simple force of the facts.

For example, on Sander's widely publicized law school paper, time has passed and few of us go in for reading law review articles. However, Emily Bazelon's widely read critique of it was hasty in claiming that the responses published along with Sander's piece refuted his claims. Rather, anyone reading them with an open mind would see that they left Sander's basic point standing tall and this applies to any other critique I have seen: there has been no "smackdown." It is similarly unlikely that anyone could tell Arcidiacono, Aucejo and Hotz that what they chronicle was mirages.

The mismatch exists in STEM and law

Quite simply, mismatch is bad news for black people in STEM and law. And if that's somehow not a problem because it isn't all of what school is, then why is it considered OK for Black Lives Matter to focus only on cop killings rather than inner city killings?

When science and the law are harder for young black people to engage than they should be, we should all call that alone a problem indeed.

And really, the fact that students thrive at different paces is hardly rocket science. It riles people coming from Scalia's mouth because it implies that black and brown students are somehow mentally inferior.

However, it needn't and doesn't. Black and Latino students are often less prepared for the pace of teaching at tippy-top schools because of the societal factors that dismay us all: quality of schooling, parents denied good education themselves, complex home lives. The question is: Do we respond to this by nonetheless placing students in schools teaching beyond what they are prepared? The data suggest this harms more than it helps, and that is not a racist observation in the least.

An example: Plato's "Republic" runs about 300 pages. At Columbia, we assign it to every sophomore as the first reading of the year. They are expected to have been able to get through it, to discuss it for two or three two-hour classes, and refer to it in a paper or two after that.

Imagine being a student who is quite bright but is from a home without many books in it. He isn't the fastest reader in the world, and his schools didn't expose him to much discussion of ideas as opposed to facts. All of a sudden, he's in a classroom where students marinated since toddlerhood in books and top-quality education are confidently discussing this book, blithely tossing off concepts he's rarely heard of, all doing a fine job of at least faking having gotten through all 300 pages.

Now imagine this student at a school where about 40 pages of the Republic is assigned, likely including the passage about the cave, with the professor making sure to usher students through the contours of the argument, aware that most of the students have rarely engaged a text of this kind. Which class is this student going to be most comfortable in, and which class is she likely to get a better grade on her paper in?

And -- given that nobody remembers much about 300 whole pages four years later, has this guy really gotten a raw deal in terms of education? Some Columbia students would be quite happy if we only assigned 40 pages and went over them with a fine-toothed comb.

What really happens

Yet the discussion of affirmative action implies that the choice is somehow between Yale or jail. But here's what happens on the ground. At the University of California, San Diego the year before racial preferences were banned in the late '90s, exactly one black student out of 3,268 freshmen made honors. A few years later after students who once would have been "mismatched" to flagship schools UC Berkeley were now admitted to schools such as UC San Diego, one in five black freshmen were making honors, the same proportion as white ones.

What civil rights leader of the past would have seen this as racism? Who in the future will? Or why are we tarring Scalia as a bigot for espousing outcomes like this in the here and now?

Our national conversation on racial preferences is underinformed and mean when founded on an assumption that anyone who seriously questions racial preferences is naive at best and a pig at worst. Affirmative action is a complex matter upon which reasonable minds will differ. With the well-being of young people of color at stake, we can't afford to pretend otherwise.

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Re: Harvard Sued for Asian Quotas in Admissions

Post by pianoman »

The Asian American Coalition for Education has filed another federal discrimination complaint, this time against Yale, Dartmouth and Brown. Their earlier complaint against Harvard was dismissed, but the complementary lawsuit is still pending and according to reports the percentage of Asians admitted to Harvard since has loosened to >20%. Also, the coalition has more than doubled to about 130 groups, including Indian-American and Pakistani-American groups.

AACE Facebook page, with many more links: https://www.facebook.com/AACFEER/

http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2016/05/2 ... inst-yale/
Asian-American groups file complaint against Yale


A coalition of more than 100 Asian-American organizations filed a federal complaint Monday with the civil rights offices of the U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Education, imploring officials to open an investigation into the admissions practices at Yale and two other Ivy League schools.

The Asian American Coalition for Education has also called for investigations at Brown University and Dartmouth College over claims that the institutions unlawfully discriminate against Asian-Americans in admissions. According to the organization’s website, Brown, Dartmouth and Yale have the lowest acceptance rates for Asians and have seen declining Asian enrollment since 2011, despite the demographic’s growing college-aged population.

“As studies demonstrate, these Ivy League Colleges have been and are engaged in systematic and continuous discrimination against Asian-American applicants during their so-called ‘holistic’ college admissions processes, and have denied and deny admission to many Asian-American applicants solely because of their race,” the complaint read.

Many similar complaints have been filed against selective colleges on behalf of Asian-American students in the past, but none have yielded findings suggesting discrimination against any particular ethnic group. In 2015, a federal investigation into admissions procedures at Princeton University found insufficient evidence to substantiate claims that the school had discriminated on the basis of “race, color or national origin.”

On Saturday, in anticipation of the complaint’s filing, University Spokesman Tom Conroy defended Yale’s use of race as a factor in admissions in order to create diverse classes of students. He declined to comment further once the complaint was released Monday morning.

“All relevant factors are considered in the context of the application as a whole, and the decision on any applicant does not turn on any one factor alone,” Conroy said. “In conducting a holistic review, applicants are not disadvantaged in the admissions process on the basis of race or national origin.”

But the authors of the complaint, as well as representatives from its 132 signatory organizations, agree that selective colleges’ emphasis on holistic application reviews has allowed them to justify discrimination against Asian-Americans.

Frank Xu, president of San Diego Asian Americans for Equality, one of the organizations that endorsed the complaint, said colleges like Yale should be more transparent about the criteria they use to accept applicants.

“I firmly believe that in the current admissions procedure, Asian-Americans are experiencing reverse racial discrimination and we hope the schools can make their admissions procedures more transparent so that every student has the equal opportunity to get into these top schools,” Xu said.

Still, the complaint has been divisive even within the Asian-American community. Christopher Lapinig ’07 LAW ’13, an attorney at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, called AACE’s complaint an attempt to capitalize on people’s anxieties about the accessibility of higher education in order to attack race-based affirmative action, which he said has historically benefitted all students — including Asian-Americans.

In response to AACE’s complaint, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles invited organizations on Monday to endorse an open letter affirming race-conscious admissions as a way of promoting equal opportunity. The letter also directly refuted the claim that using affirmative action policies is comparable to following racial quotas — a charge the AACE leveled at Yale in its complaint.

“I really hope that [the holistic] approach to admissions — thinking about each applicant as a person — continues in the future because it serves not only the students themselves but also the student body as a whole,” Lapinig said.

AACE filed a similar complaint against Harvard in May 2015, but it was dismissed two months later because a lawsuit by a different organization, which is still pending, makes similar allegations. The AACE’s most recent complaint is the first of its kind against Yale.
Here is another article addressing the complaint but not about it from the very liberal Huffington Post. I think it is clear here that the other AA organizations opposed to the lawsuit are only defending the status quo in academia. They fail to show how ending discrimination against one group necessarily means increasing discrimination against another. For example, pro-affirmative action Asians are quick to point out that legacy admissions are also a form of favoratism, however intead of taking a position against both forms of favoratism, they simply deflect all criticism of the admissions process as "anti-affirmative action" and thus "anti-minority" and "not in Asians' interest." It is also worth noting that they tend also to be against a more open and transparent admissions process, which is actually a very liberal idea and which this author proposes:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-michel ... 21814.html
The Ivy League Asian Problem

05/25/2016 01:55 pm ET
Dr. Michele Hernandez
Co-Founder, Top Tier Admissions

There are two problems with Asian college applicants and Ivy League colleges. The first is that the vast majority of Asian applicants focus on a subset of Harvard/Yale/Princeton (and a disproportionate number on Harvard, the Asian dream for many). The second is that the acceptance rates for Asian students are typically lower than those for virtually every other demographic group to the point that the number of admitted students does not represent the rise of the applicant pool at selective colleges.

The Asian American Coalition for Education (AACE) filed a complaint with the Departments of Justice and Education Monday, stating that as the population of college-age Asian Americans has grown in the past 20 years, their representation has leveled off or declined at Brown, Dartmouth and Yale. The AACE highlights the schools’ “highly subjective and discriminatory” admissions decisions. When a similar complaint was filed against Harvard in 2015, the number of Asian admits rose despite the fact the complaint was denied. After students filed a complaint against Princeton in 2006, its admission rate for Asian students increased to 25.4% in 2014 from 14.7% in 2007 in part due to the political pressure.

From where we sit as advocates for transparency in admissions and as advocates for high school students and their parents, the complaint is valid. I’ve seen from the inside (as a former admissions officer at Dartmouth College) how even the so-called “holistic process” can discriminate against Asian students. I share some of this insider information here: Behind the Scenes in an Ivy League Admissions Office. Often high-scoring Asian applicants with top GPA’s were seen as “passive,” “robotic,” and “just another violin/piano playing standout” with “lack of spark.” Though I don’t think discrimination was intentional, there persisted a stereotype that the majority of Asian applicants were strong in math/science, played the violin or piano at a high level, attended Chinese (or Korean) school on weekends and often did tutoring, Kumon, high level math contests and award-centered activities like Academic Decathlon or Quiz Bowl. At committee discussions, Asians students were often rejected because they “didn’t stand out,” were “too quiet,” “low impact” or “too one-sided.”

Having seen this kind of discrimination first-hand working in an Ivy League admissions office, it comes as no surprise that working with students in private consulting for the past 20 years, we’ve seen continued discrimination. We tell the Asian clients we work with (both US citizens and international students) that it’s not good enough to have the “average” Ivy SAT scores of 730 or so - if you are Asian, you have to be well above average (a third party study proved that number was actually 140 points higher than the average for white students) to get into top US Colleges. We also focus our Asian clients on high level reading and vocabulary as the quickest way for Asians to be rejected is a low Critical Reading score on the SAT. Though 800’s on the SAT math section is de rigueur, fewer Asian students excel on the Critical Reading section of the SAT. We put our younger students on a strict reading and vocabulary program for this reason. As educators first, we want our students to have college choices, of course, but we also want them to deepen their love of learning and ability to embrace and even enjoy the classics.

We work with our Asian students to identify and help foster their humanities interests, rather than solely focusing on math and science where it’s impossible to stand out amongst the competition. One of our strongest Asian math students took our advice and developed a focus in classics (Latin and Greek). He defied the odds and was admitted to both Yale and Stanford. We gave him permission to take high level action on what was a natural interest rather than follow a seemingly cultural pressure to be premed or perish.

We feel strongly that colleges have not been fair to Asian applicants. Perhaps the most flagrant violation (one not mentioned in the complaint) is the fact that at information sessions at all top colleges, staff brag about their “students of color” percentage of 30-35%. When the general public hears this, they tend to think about “minority” students (African American, Latino/a, Native American). But this is not the case. The minority number is much, much smaller at top colleges (more like 15-20% total). Colleges have the nerve to count Asians in the “of color” number to represent diversity, yet unlike minority students, they get no special treatment in admissions. This is patently unfair.

We hope this complaint will lead to a deeper examination of the selective admissions process at top colleges to make it fairer for all college applicants and to move to end discrimination against any one group of students. In the meantime, we encourage all college applicants to become informed and not operate on the many myths floating around about how to hack admissions, but rather take pointed action to have more choices in the competitive US admissions game.

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Re: Harvard Sued for Asian Quotas in Admissions

Post by pianoman »

The U of T case involving Abigail Fisher was denied and the previous ambiguous ruling upholding the right of universities to use race as a factor in admissions was reaffirmed. The court was short 2 justices after the passing of Antonin Scalia and a recusation by Elena Kagen, who would have voted with the majority. Dissenting opinion was an angry 51-pages long.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/24/us/po ... texas.html
Supreme Court Upholds Affirmative Action Program at University of Texas

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a challenge to a race-conscious admissions program at the University of Texas at Austin, handing supporters of affirmative action a major victory.

The decision, Fisher v. University of Texas, No. 14-981, concerned an unusual program and contained a warning to other universities that not all affirmative action programs will pass constitutional muster. But the ruling’s basic message was that admissions officials may continue to consider race as one factor among many in ensuring a diverse student body.

The decision, by a 4-to-3 vote, was unexpected. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the author of the majority opinion, has long been skeptical of race-sensitive programs and had never before voted to uphold an affirmative action plan. He dissented in the last major affirmative action case.

Supporters of affirmative action hailed the decision as a landmark.

“No decision since Brown v. Board of Education has been as important as Fisher will prove to be in the long history of racial inclusion and educational diversity,” said Laurence H. Tribe, a law professor at Harvard, referring to the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision striking down segregated public schools.

Roger Clegg, the president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, which supports colorblind policies, said the decision, though disappointing, was only a temporary setback.

“The court’s decision leaves plenty of room for future challenges to racial preference policies at other schools,” he said. “The struggle goes on.”

President Obama hailed the decision. “I’m pleased that the Supreme Court upheld the basic notion that diversity is an important value in our society,” he told reporters at the White House. “We are not a country that guarantees equal outcomes, but we do strive to provide an equal shot to everybody.”

Supreme Court Justices’ Comments Don’t Bode Well for Affirmative Action DEC. 9, 2015
Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, said courts must give universities substantial but not total leeway in designing their admissions programs.

“A university is in large part defined by those intangible ‘qualities which are incapable of objective measurement but which make for greatness,’” Justice Kennedy wrote, quoting from a landmark desegregation case. “Considerable deference is owed to a university in defining those intangible characteristics, like student body diversity, that are central to its identity and educational mission.”

“But still,” Justice Kennedy added, “it remains an enduring challenge to our nation’s education system to reconcile the pursuit of diversity with the constitutional promise of equal treatment and dignity.”

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor joined Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion. Justice Elena Kagan, who would probably have voted with the majority, was recused from the case because she had worked on it as solicitor general.

In a lengthy and impassioned dissent delivered from the bench, a sign of deep disagreement, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. denounced the court’s ruling, saying that the university had not demonstrated the need for race-based admissions and that the Texas program benefited advantaged students over impoverished ones.

“This is affirmative action gone berserk,” Justice Alito told his colleagues, adding that what they had done in the case was “simply wrong.”

Under the University of Texas’ admissions program, most applicants from within the state are admitted under a part of the program that guarantees admission to top students in every high school in the state. This is often called the Top 10 Percent program, though the percentage cutoff can vary by year.

The Top 10 Percent program has produced significant racial and ethnic diversity. In 2011, for instance, 26 percent of freshmen who enrolled under the program were Hispanic, and 6 percent were black. The population of Texas is about 38 percent Hispanic and 12 percent black.

The case challenged a second part of the admissions program. Under it, remaining students from Texas and elsewhere are considered under standards that take into account academic achievement and other factors, including race and ethnicity. Many colleges and universities base all of their admissions decisions on such grounds.

In Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003, the Supreme Court endorsed such free-standing holistic admissions programs, saying it was permissible to consider race as one factor among many to achieve educational diversity. Writing for the majority in that case, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said she expected that “25 years from now,” the “use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary.”

Justice Kennedy’s decision left Grutter intact.

Thursday’s case was brought by Abigail Fisher, a white woman who said the university had denied her admission based on her race. She has since graduated from Louisiana State University.

“I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has ruled that students applying to the University of Texas can be treated differently because of their race or ethnicity,” Ms. Fisher said in a statement on Thursday. “I hope that the nation will one day move beyond affirmative action.”

When the court last considered Ms. Fisher’s case in 2013, supporters of affirmative action were nervous. But the court deferred conclusive action in what appeared to be a compromise decision.

In his dissent on Thursday, Justice Alito said the court had reversed itself. “Something strange has happened since our prior decision in this case,” he wrote.

When the second iteration of the case was argued in December, Justice Kennedy suggested that the court might again send it back to the appeals court. On Thursday, though, he said that would have been a waste of time.

“A remand would do nothing more than prolong a suit that has already persisted for eight years and cost the parties on both sides significant resources,” he wrote. “Petitioner long since has graduated from another college, and the university’s policy — and the data on which it first was based — may have evolved or changed in material ways.”

Justice Kennedy then methodically rejected Ms. Fisher’s arguments. He said the university’s diversity goals were not amorphous but “concrete and precise,” satisfying the constitutional requirement that government racial classifications advance a compelling interest.

Justice Alito described those goals — concerning “the destruction of stereotypes,” promoting “cross-racial understanding” and preparing students “for an increasingly diverse work force and society” — as slippery and impervious to judicial scrutiny.

Justice Kennedy wrote that the university was justified in saying that the Top Ten Percent plan did not alone produce sufficient diversity, adding that the holistic part of the admissions program “had a meaningful, if still limited, effect on the diversity of the university’s freshman class.”

He said the Top Ten Percent program had built-in limits.

“An admissions policy that relies exclusively on class rank creates perverse incentives for applicants,” he wrote. “Percentage plans ‘encourage parents to keep their children in low-performing segregated schools, and discourage students from taking challenging classes that might lower their grade point averages,’” he added, quoting from an earlier dissent from Justice Ginsburg.

“Wherever the balance between percentage plans and holistic review should rest, an effective admissions policy cannot prescribe, realistically, the exclusive use of a percentage plan,” Justice Kennedy wrote.

Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion was 20 pages long. It elicited a furious 51-page dissent from Justice Alito, joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Clarence Thomas.

Justice Alito said the majority opinion helped affluent African-American students and hurt Asian-American ones.

“Even though U.T. has never provided any coherent explanation for its asserted need to discriminate on the basis of race, and even though U.T.’s position relies on a series of unsupported and noxious racial assumptions,” he wrote, “the majority concludes that U.T. has met its heavy burden. This conclusion is remarkable — and remarkably wrong.”

Sherrilyn Ifill, the president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., said the decision was gratifying.

“Universities all over the country are breathing a sigh of relief,” she said. “The court very compellingly reaffirmed the importance of diversity.”

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Re: Harvard Sued for Asian Quotas in Admissions

Post by pianoman »

A couple of Asian Americans recently made the news by joining the pending lawsuit against Harvard on the side of Harvard, defending affirmative action:
http://www.scpr.org/news/2016/12/13/671 ... harvard-i/
2 Southern California students backing Harvard in affirmative action case

On Tuesday, an Asian-American legal advocacy group based in Los Angeles weighed in on the lawsuit on the side of Harvard as a friend of the court. Joining with them are two local students who have applied to Harvard, a Chinese-American and a Pacific Islander.

“What we’re really trying to accomplish is bring the voices of Asian-American students who support affirmative action and will benefit from affirmative action to bear in this case," said Nicole Ochi, an attorney with Asian Americans Advancing Justice in L.A.

Ochi said quotas are unconstitutional, but some Asians fear that Asian students with high test scores are passed over for other students of color and they oppose affirmative action as a result. Others, like Ochi's group, support affirmative action programs that can help underrepresented groups, including Cambodians, Hmong, blacks and Latinos, get into top universities.

It's a divide that is exploited by anti-affirmative action activists, Ochi said.

Seventeen-year-old Jason Fong is one of the two SoCal students supporting Harvard's admissions process. Their motion filed this week adds the two to an existing group of Harvard students and applicants who have already joined as friends of the court.

Fong said he hopes to testify in favor of affirmative action.

"Asian students and other students of color have to face institutional barriers that many white students may not, so I think it levels out the playing field." said Fong, a high school senior. He lives in Manhattan Beach and has applied to Harvard, along with other universities.

In 2014, Edward Blum, Students for Fair Admissions president, told NPR that Harvard's policies hurt Asian-Americans more than white students.

"We allege that Harvard has a hard, fast quota limiting the number of Asians it will admit," Blum said. "In addition to that, Harvard has a racial balancing policy that balances the percentages of African-Americans, Hispanics, Whites and Asians."
Meanwhile Harvard's student newspaper's editorial board has printed an opinion opposing the intent of the lawsuit and defending affirmative action policies, but supporting the practical implications of the lawsuit because it may force the university to openly review and modernize its admissions process. The call for greater transparancy is a very liberal idea, but one you very rarely see coming from affirmative action proponents:
http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2016/ ... ve-action/
More Nuance in Affirmative Action
Using the Anti-Affirmative Action Lawsuit to Improve Considerations of Race


After two years of stagnation, Harvard’s hand will be forced to release six years of admissions data in response to an anti-affirmative action lawsuit. The organization Students for Fair Admissions claims that affirmative action illegally discriminates against Asian-Americans by setting a percentage quota. U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs has decided that more “comprehensive data” than the basic yearly demographics released by Harvard will be necessary for investigating these claims.

While we strongly disagree with the objective of this lawsuit, we believe that claims of discrimination against Asian-Americans do justify greater scrutiny of Harvard’s admissions process. Despite the unfortunate and unnecessary context in which it is taking place, the release of additional data is a step towards transparency and a better understanding of this highly selective—and, alas, sometimes equally mysterious—process.

Affirmative action is crucial for diversity on campus. African-Americans and Hispanic students live with many socioeconomic challenges that depress their access to education, including the chronic underfunding of schools with students of color at every poverty level, or the psychological traumas that result from fearing or experiencing discrimination. An inability to accept the importance of race in a society that is far from race-blind will feed this cycle of deprivation.

Nevertheless, the benefits of affirmative action do not justify fully ignoring claims about Asian-American admissions. Crucially, affirmative action ought not to be framed as a zero-sum game where the admission of an African-American or Hispanic student constitutes the replacement of more qualified Asian-American student. This wrongheaded narrative ignores, among other considerations, the fact that legacy students and others are also granted preference in the admissions process.

Rather than pitting minorities against each other, the greater scrutiny that Harvard is undergoing should shed light on the mechanics of admissions for the sake of transparency. For instance, one study found that Asian-Americans require 140 more SAT points than white peers to gain entry to private colleges. While statistics like this one may very well be benign, it deserves more attention to counter claims of discrimination.

This lawsuit is a chance for Harvard to reexamine its ambiguous criteria for “well-roundedness” and potentially refine the way it thinks about affirmative action. The current policy may fail to take into account significant variations within race—grouping dozens of countries and cultures into a generalized whole, or overlooking patterns of socioeconomic privilege among individuals. As Harvard further scrutinizes its admissions policies, we hope that it will find nuances to reconsider.

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