By Natalia Castro
Discrimination is wrong in any form. Yet liberal universities are attempting to combat discrimination, not by creating equality, but instead by discriminating against different groups. This is the basic idea behind affirmative action- one group has been discriminated against historically, so another group must be discriminated against currently to even out the playing field. But Asian-Americans are not rallying behind this idea. Despite being a minority group in this country, Asian-Americans have been determined “too privileged” to receive the benefits of affirmative action, so they are fighting back against this racist system. And now, the Department of Justice is on their side.
In a lawsuit filed against Harvard College, Students for Fair Admissions argues the school’s admission process deliberately discriminates against Asian American students by placing caps on the number of students in different minority groups admitted and placing preference on other groups despite academic achievement levels.
The lawsuit cites a study conducted by Harvard’s own Office of Institutional Research in 2013 which found that Asian Americans would comprise 43.4 percent of the admitted class under an “academic-only” model. Instead, this group only makes up 18.7 percent of the actual admitted class. In fact, subsequent research by the group found that being Asian American actually decreased the likelihood of admission for students.
Unfortunately, when this study was shared with William Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Fitzsimmons chose not to discuss the findings with his colleagues and made no changes to the system.
But Harvard is not the only higher education institution guilty of this practice, and it is hurting Asian Americans across the country.
The Center for Equal Opportunity conducted a study in May 2018 analyzing enrollment trends at Harvard, Caltech, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Caltech does not engage in race-based affirmative action, while MIT and Harvard do.
The results found that at Caltech, Asian Americans routinely constitute more than 40 percent of the student body. Conversely, at MIT the number of Asian American students at the school halted in the 1990’s and has stalled at 26 percent since. At Harvard, the percent of Asian American students peaked at 21 percent and has maintained about 17 percent ever since.
Researchers note, “At both MIT and Harvard there seems to be a limit or “ceiling” on how many Asian American applicants are to be admitted. If there were no such ceiling, both MIT and Harvard would probably enroll a significantly larger number of Asian American applicants. As it is, some of those applicants may conclude they were rejected on account of their race.”
The study also reminds that when affirmative action was greenlighted in 1978, it was viewed as a “temporary necessity” to equalize a history of racial injustice, but 40 years later it is perpetuating exactly what it was meant to end.
As the lawsuit notes, monitoring this discrimination in universities is of compelling interest to the government. The lawsuit explains, “Because Harvard uses race as a factor in admissions decisions… and accepts federal funds… it is subject to Title VI. Harvard thus shoulders the heavy burden of strict scrutiny. The Court, as a result, must give ‘close analysis to the evidence of how the process works in practice,’… to determine whether: Harvard intentionally discriminates against Asian-American applicants Harvard engages in racial balancing; Harvard’s use of race is narrowly tailored to achieving ‘critical mass’; Harvard has given serious, good faith consideration to nonracial approaches; and, there are, in fact, no workable, race neutral alternatives.”
For this reason, the Department of Justice filed a Statement of Interest on the side of the Students for Fair Admissions urging the court to take this case to trial promptly.
Attorney General Jeff Session noted, “No American should be denied admission to school because of their race. As a recipient of taxpayer dollars, Harvard has a responsibility to conduct its admissions policy without racial discrimination by using meaningful admissions criteria that meet lawful requirements. The Department of Justice has the responsibility to protect the civil rights of the American people. This case is significant because the admissions policies at our colleges and universities are important and must be conducted lawfully.”
Everyone knows two wrongs don’t make a right. And that is exactly what schools like Harvard are doing when they attempt to combat discrimination with affirmative action. The discrimination is only getting worse and hardworking students are being left out. By siding with the Students for Fair Admissions, the Justice Department is sending the strong message that merit, not race, should determine a student’s academic future.
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Natalia Castro is the Public Outreach Coordinator at Americans for Limited Government.