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Wednesday, December 7, 2022
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SCOTUS Considers College Admission Discrimination Cases


Supporters of affirmative action in higher education rally in front of the US Supreme Court as the justices hear arguments in cases at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina. | Image by Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

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Two high-profile cases before the U.S. Supreme Court focus on the topic of so-called “affirmative action,” which is the preferential treatment of some minority groups specifically based on their race in the college admissions process.

The cases have been brought forward by Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), a nonprofit organization claiming to have more than 20,000 members “who believe that racial classifications and preferences in college admissions are unfair, unnecessary, and unconstitutional.”

The pro-equality group accuses universities and colleges of widespread discrimination against Asian Americans in their admissions processes to benefit black and Hispanic applicants. Evidence in recent years has accumulated that elite universities were actively discriminating against Asian Americans on the basis of their race.

Asian Americans comprise only around 6% of the U.S. population, far less than the 13.6% of the population that is black and 18.9% that is Hispanic.

In a previous Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action, Grutter v. Bollinger, the high court laid out a legal groundwork for contemplating race in the admissions process. At its core, the ruling affirmed that universities can use race “only as a ‘plus,’” because utilizing race as a negative factor would serve “no legitimate purpose.”

However, in their opening brief before the Supreme Court, SFFA argued that Harvard “penalized” Asian Americans in its admissions process.

Arguing that Asian American applicants “should be admitted at a higher rate than whites,” SFFA said, “They [Asian Americans] are substantially stronger than white applicants on nearly every measure of academic achievement, including SAT scores, GPA, and the academic rating.”

Asian Americans “perform similarly [to whites] on nearly every other rating that matters,” yet these groups are admitted at the same rate, SFFA claimed.

SFFA argued that Harvard tips the scale against Asian Americans by tanking their “personal rating” score in the admissions process. This highly-subjective metric scores qualities like “integrity,” “courage,” “kindness,” and “empathy.”

The group claimed Asian Americans “receive by far the worst scores.”

Claiming these scores are not “an innocent coincidence,” SFFA pointed to the findings of a lower court that reviewed admissions data and found “a statistically significant and negative relationship between Asian American identity and the personal rating assigned by Harvard admissions officers.”

In a recent interview, author Natasha Warikoo recalled a moment that captured the essence of frustration within the Asian American community regarding the nation’s education system.

“I remember speaking on a panel years ago at one of these exam schools, and an Asian American woman stood up and said, ‘You know, just as we figure out your system of meritocracy, it feels like you’re pulling the rug from underneath us,’” Warikoo recollected.

Warikoo told interviewers that the Asian parents she spoke to while writing her book were deeply concerned about the possibility of anti-Asian discrimination in the admissions process.

In a press release announcing the filing of SFFA’s brief, the group pointed to a Pew Research poll that showed 63% of Asian Americans believe “race or ethnicity should not factor into admissions decisions.”

Oiyan Poon, an associate professor at Colorado State University, argued that this sentiment, particularly among Chinese Americans, reflects frustration with class mobility and the immigration experience in the United States.

But not everyone believes that affirmative action, even to the detriment of Asian Americans, should be cast aside.

Kevin Kumashiro, education policy expert and former dean at the University of San Francisco, said society needs to address anti-Asian bias, “but we need to be careful not to say that anti-Asian bias is a sign that affirmative action is anti-Asian.”

“I’m not convinced that Asian Americans are sacrificing when we support affirmative action policies,” Kumashiro argued. “If we agree that traditional measures of success like test scores and GPAs are accurate indicators of who is most accomplished and most promising — and therefore most eligible to get into a place like Harvard — then yes, affirmative action may actually harm you if you have those qualifications.”

“But those measures have long benefited certain groups, and they don’t necessarily reflect who is the most accomplished or who is the most promising,” Kumashiro said.

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Senior Pastor
Senior Pastor
17 days ago

Reverse discrimination is never right.

17 days ago

Seems their grades should always be the deciding factor, no matter who it is. To just let someone in because of skin color or other factors is ludicrous and an imminent danger to society. And that includes white people of the lower ilk. You want a bunch of mediocre and inept people to become doctors or lawyers? Granted, colleges have been known to show favoritism to applicants whose parents have money and donate to the school, which is bias in every form. People shouldn’t be allowed to buy their children in. If the student has the grades, fine, but those grades had best be better than other applicants. You gotta ask yourself, should Einstein be turned away because he didn’t meet the woke ideal? (Although he was possibly too intelligent for any college we have available.)

Robert Weir
Robert Weir
13 days ago

Affirmative Action has singlehandedly dumbed down the education system, along with corporate America and elective office at every level of government. You can’t expect quality people to emerge from a system that has tossed out the standards by which excellence is achieved. Not only does it hand over academic degrees to those who haven’t earned them, it sends those “miseducated” people into the workforce where their incompetence will lower the efficiency and criteria of any profession.