Indian American Discrimination in Admissions

Indian Americans face discrimination in admissions (photo credit: Chensiyuan).

For many years, we have argued that the way to bring about an end to Asian American discrimination in elite college admissions was through a groundswell of opposition, through a movement by the people and of the people speaking up and speaking out. When folks sought to end Asian American discrimination in admissions through the courts, we directed them to more carefully study our nation’s story. The most significant civil rights reforms in our nation’s history have begun not in the courts but with the populace — at places like The Stonewall Inn. At Selma. At Seneca Falls. And while we are devastated what has inspired our current moment, we are nonetheless delighted that, after all these years, it seems that moment is now our Asian American brothers and sisters. People are speaking up and speaking out for our fellow Asian American citizens. This makes us happy. It’s. About. Time.

But while we’re in this current moment, we thought we’d also shine a strobe-light on the fact that a subgroup of Asian Americans — South Asian Americans — also face this same discrimination in elite college admissions. It’s not as widely discussed. To our knowledge, there are no court cases against elite universities about the discrimination. We don’t even read any articles in the press about it. But it nonetheless exists. You see, when an admissions officer at an elite universities comes across an Indian American applicant who wants to be a doctor or a computer scientist, who is involved in activities like tennis or classical Indian dance or robotics, they — whether knowingly or unknowingly — so often deem this applicant uninteresting and are more likely than not to deny their case for admission. It’s not right. But it’s the case nonetheless.

And if you don’t think this discrimination against Indian American applicants exists in elite college admissions in spite of it not being spoken about much at all, look no further than the current COVID-19 crisis in India. When our country banned travel from China to the United States, the move was criticized as xenophobic and bigoted. When our country more recently banned travel from India to the United States, we barely heard a peep about it. This same phenomenon is at play in elite college admissions. Indian Americans face discrimination — discrimination we at Ivy Coach help them overcome. Yet it’s rarely discussed. Well, it’s high time someone discusses it. There’s no time like the present.

 
 

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