Thanks to BAP Blog reader Anthony Lee for the link and lead on some better data regarding the Ivy League discrimination against Asians and Jews.
Much of what I’m writing is from Stephen Hsu’s blog: these three posts in particular.
- Universities Ranked by ACT/SAT Scores
- Twenty Years at Fifteen Percent
- Free Harvard, Fair Harvard: Enrollment Trends
We’ll start with the admitted explicit anti-Jewish admissions process in place at Harvard, from “Twenty Years at Fifteen Percent.”
… In a letter to the chairman of the committee, President Lowell wrote that “questions of race,” though “delicate and disagreeable,” were not solved by ignoring them. The solution was a new admissions system giving the school wide discretion to limit the admission of Jewish applicants:
“To prevent a dangerous increase in the proportion of Jews, I know at present only one way which is at the same time straightforward and effective, and that is a selection by a personal estimate of character on the part of the Admissions authorities … The only way to make a selection is to limit the numbers, accepting those who appear to be the best.”
… The reduction in Jewish enrollment at Harvard was immediate. The Jewish portion of Harvard’s entering class dropped from over 27 percent in 1925 to 15 percent the following year. For the next 20 years, this percentage (15 percent) remained virtually unchanged.
And how was this accomplished, given the Equal Protection Clause in the 5th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution? Well, the former Dean of Admissions of the University of Pennsylvania and at Franklin & Marshall College explained in the L.A. Times Op-Ed piece, “The Truth About ‘Holistic’ College Admissions.”
See, the Ivy League schools hide their enrollment data (except basic demographic data) and include a ‘holistic’ component of the admissions process where racial bias seeps in.
In all, holistic admissions adds subjectivity to admissions decisions, and the practice makes it difficult to explain who gets in, who doesn’t, and why. But has holistic admissions become a guise for allowing cultural and even racial biases to dictate the admissions process?
To some degree, yes.
As an admissions professional, I gave students, families and guidance counselors a list of what it took to be admitted — the objective expectations of a competitive applicant. I didn’t mention that racial stereotyping, money, connections and athletics sometimes overshadow these high benchmarks we all promoted. The veil of holistic admissions allows for these other factors to become key elements in a student’s admissions decision.
The most heart-wrenching conversations I had were with students who hit all the listed benchmarks and didn’t get in. I would tell them about the overall competitiveness of the applicant pool and the record low admit rate we had. But after I hung up the phone, I knew I wasn’t being transparent.
There was always a reason. Once in a while, it was something concrete, like the student got a low grade in an academic course even though his or her overall GPA remained high. Often, it had to do with the fact that the application had no “tag.”
A tag is the proverbial golden ticket for a student applying to an elite institution. A tag identifies a student as a high priority for the institution. Typically students with tags are recruited athletes, children of alumni, children of donors or potential donors, or students who are connected to the well connected. The lack of a tag can hinder an otherwise strong, high-achieving student. Asian American students typically don’t have these tags.
Reminiscent of Jim Crow laws which, on their face, didn’t discriminate against African Americans but were designed and operated in just that way, these policies do the same.
Asian Americans are rarely children of alumni at the Ivies, for example. There aren’t as many recruited athletes coming from the Asian American applicant pool. Nor are they typically earmarked as “actual” or “potential” donors. They simply don’t have long-standing connections to these institutions.
And the fact is that Asian Americans often don’t use the “connections” they do have. In all my years in college admissions, I never received a phone call or a visit from a well-connected politician, chief executive or other leader to advocate for an Asian American student.
Tags alone are not the only reason highly qualified Asian American applicants are turned away in droves from elite private institutions. Nowadays nobody on an admissions committee would dare use the term racial “quotas,” but racial stereotyping is alive and well. And although colleges would never admit students based on “quotas,” they fearlessly will “sculpt” the class with race and gender percentages in mind.
For example, there’s an expectation that Asian Americans will be the highest test scorers and at the top of their class; anything less can become an easy reason for a denial. And yet even when Asian American students meet this high threshold, they may be destined for the wait list or outright denial because they don’t stand out among the other high-achieving students in their cohort. The most exceptional academic applicants may be seen as the least unique, and so admissions officers are rarely moved to fight for them.
In a lawsuit against similar policies and processes at UNC, the plaintiffs, Asian Americans rejected for admission wrote,
“UNC-Chapel Hill and other academic institutions cannot and should not be trusted with the awesome and historically dangerous tool of racial classification. As in the past, they will use any leeway the Supreme Court grants them to use racial preferences in college admissions — under whatever rubric — to engage in racial stereotyping and other forms of discrimination to advance their social-engineering agenda.”
As Hsu pointed out, the Princeton Review, a company assisting students get into the schools where they wish to study has recommended that Asian students try to appear less Asian and for white students who may be confused as Asian (like by a surname of Lee) to attach a photo to show that they are not Asian.
… According to the Princeton Review: “Asian Americans comprise an increasing proportion of college students nationwide. Many Asian Americans have been extraordinarily successful academically, to the point where some colleges now worry that there are ‘too many’ Asian Americans on their campuses. Being an Asian American can now actually be a distinct disadvantage in the admissions processes at some of the most selective schools in the country …
… If you’re given an option, don’t attach a photograph to your application and don’t answer the optional question about your ethnic background. This is especially important if you don’t have an Asian sounding surname. (By the same token, if you do have an Asian sounding surname but aren’t Asian, do attach a photograph.)”
The irony here is that conservative white populations lobbied and litigated hard against Affirmative Action, claiming merit was the best and only way to determine an applicant’s worthiness. Now, with flagging scores and less scholastic merit than their Amemrican counterparts with Asian ancestry, they fight to keep a holistic process allowing for race to be considered.
“Over the last 20 years, the Asian American HEPC has declined by almost 60%. Unless Asian American applicants to Harvard have, on average, declined significantly in relative quality (anecdotal evidence suggests that is far from true), we are left with a mystery: Why has Asian American HEPC declined so precipitously?” asks Hsu.
As you can see by The Economist’s graphic, it’s not just Harvard. It’s all Ivy League schools and many other institutions (mostly private, some public).
As University admissions protect whites, non-whites get a clearer picture of the cause of their struggles – white supremacy by caste enforcement. It doesn’t matter how hard you try, the game is rigged by race.
Compare Caltech, an elite school explicitly rejecting race as an admissions consideration in the graphic. The result is that Caltech now has the nations top students in terms of scholastic achievement. As Hsu points out in his rankings post…
Here’s what Vernon Smith (Nobel Prize in econ; started as a physics major at Caltech but bailed into EE and then econ ;-) had to say:
The first thing to which one has to adapt is the fact that no matter how high people might sample in the right tail of the distribution for “intelligence,” … that sample is still normally distributed in performing on the materials in the Caltech curriculum. The second thing you learn, if you were reared with my naive background, is the incredible arrogance that develops in conjunction with the acquisition of what you ultimately come to realize is a really very, very small bit of knowledge compared with our vast human ignorance. … the difference between Harvard and Caltech: “At Harvard they believe they are the best in the world; at Caltech they know they are the best in the world.”