College Quotas for Asians

If you’re applying to Harvard and your last name is Wong, Li or Liu, changing it to Lopez or Luciano could increase your chances of getting in. Harvard routinely rejects “Asian” applicants in favor of whites and sought-after minorities with lower test scores and grades. Enrollment data reveal that Harvard limits Asian-Americans to a flat 15-18 percent of the student body year after year, though they increasingly dominate the top of the applicant pool.


To smoke out ethnicity, Harvard requires applicants to provide their parents’ place of birth, mother’s maiden name and whether their family has ever changed its name. These questions, along with an interview requirement, were devised in the 1920s to limit the number of Jewish students. Now Asians are the new Jews, welcome only in limited numbers.

Last Friday, 64 Asian-American organizations filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education challenging Harvard’s quota system. Harvard denies it has one, but the evidence that it does is convincing and sickening.

The complaint states that Harvard is violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by discriminating on the basis of race. Harvard’s general counsel Robert W. Iuliano responds that the college’s admissions process is “highly individualized” and “holistic.” But admissions data say otherwise.

Amazingly, no matter how the racial makeup of the applicant pool changes year to year, the outcome is the same cookie-cutter student body: 15 percent to 18 percent Asian, 42 percent to 49 percent white, 6 percent to 8 percent African American, and 7 percent to 9 percent Hispanic, plus others.

It’s not believable that this could be happening, absent racial quotas, when Asian high school students make up twice the share of total college applicants that they did two decades ago, and they are sweeping up the academic prizes everywhere.

In New York, Asians make up 7 percent of the population, but garner nearly one-third of the National Merit finalist awards. Asians represent 11 percent of California high school students, but 60 percent of that state’s National Merit Scholars.

California bans taking race into consideration in its university admissions. No surprise that Asians now comprise 42 percent of the students at Cal Tech, up from 25 percent two decades ago.

If race were not being used to limit Asian acceptances, the same thing would be happening at Harvard. The college’s newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, reports that Asians have to score hundreds of points higher on their SATs to get accepted. They’re not competing against all applicants, just against other Asians.

The Ivy League’s Asian quotas are an open secret. The Princeton Review, a guide for students applying to college, warns Asian-Americans not to attach a picture or write their essay on the importance of family. “Being an Asian-American can actually be a distinct disadvantage in the admissions processes. … If you are an Asian-American — or even if you simply have an Asian or Asian-sounding surname — you need to be careful about what you do and don’t say.”

Harvard says it treats each applicant as an individual, but pigeonholing someone as “Asian” is hardly individualistic. Asian means anyone from India, Korea, China, Vietnam, Japan and many other regions and cultures, as well as religions ranging from Buddhist to Hindu to Christian to Muslim.

The complaint concedes that racial diversity is an important goal in assembling a college class, but it cites plenty of evidence that giving poor kids a leg up in the admissions process is just as effective as racial quotas in making sure African-Americans and Hispanics get in. “We are willing to support such affirmative action.”

Fair enough. It also would benefit students like Kai Chan, who is named in the complaint and is now earning a doctorate at Princeton. “I am the son of poor, non-English speaking parents, neither of whom attended high school. They never read to me as a child. … I attended five high schools, one of which was known locally as ‘Last Chance High,'” says Chan.

Despite working nearly full time through high school and college, Chan is making his mark as a scholar. Too bad Harvard’s admissions system was rigged against him simply because his name is Chan.

Betsy McCaughey is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and author of “Government by Choice: Inventing the United States Constitution.”

Also see,

Government Censorship on the Rise

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