The Ivy Coach Daily

January 28, 2022

Affirmative Action Is a Scapegoat for Asian American Discrimination

Affirmative Action is an easy scapegoat for discrimination that Asian Americans face in elite college admissions.

Affirmative Action, which will soon be up for debate at our nation’s highest court, has long been the most divisive subject we cover on the pages of this college admissions blog, regularly engendering a slew of comments both for and against the consideration of race in admissions decision-making. Today, we thought we’d address one such recent comment in which a reader essentially called it hypocritical for Ivy Coach to support the practice of Affirmative Action in light of the fact that some of our clients are Asian American. The comment, of course, left us scratching our heads. What does this have to do with the price of tea in China, we wondered.

The commenter’s argument was that offering preference to underrepresented minorities (Asian Americans are overrepresented minorities in elite college admissions) invariably eliminates slots in admissions for Asian American applicants. By supporting Affirmative Action, the commenter is essentially arguing that we’re in favor of eliminating slots in admissions for Asian American applicants. This, of course, could not be further from the truth. From atop our soapbox in elite college admissions, we at Ivy Coach have long decried the discrimination that Asian Americans face in elite college admissions. Long before the SFFA v. Harvard lawsuit (a suit in which we’ve argued Asian Americans are being used as pawns to advance the agenda of dismantling Affirmative Action), when few were even broaching the topic, we declared that Asian Americans face significant implicit biases in the selection process.

And as we have long argued, offering preference in admission to underrepresented minorities — including Black and Latinx applicants — is no more responsible for eliminating potential slots for Asian American students as is offering preference to recruited athletes, legacy applicants, development cases, first-generation college students, low-income students, and more. You see, Asian American applicants, overwhelmingly, do not fall into these categories. Check out the football rosters of elite universities. You won’t find many Asian American students. Similarly, the legacy pools of elite universities remain overwhelmingly white, although it is diversifying over time. So allow us to disabuse these folks of their notion that Affirmative Action is responsible for the discrimination that Asian American applicants face in elite college admissions — because that’s an oversimplified, erroneous argument.

We are not now nor have we ever suggested that Affirmative Action doesn’t eliminate some slots for Asian American students — of course it does. But elite universities need diverse classes. These schools would be a whole lot less interesting if every student were of the same race. And Affirmative Action is but one practice in elite college admissions that one could argue eliminates some slots for Asian American students. Why do commenters not take aim at offering preference to the progeny of a school’s alumni base? Or offering preference to squash players and rowers? Or the children of major donors? Why do these practices not light a fire in the bellies of the folks who voice such strong comments — as you’ll likely soon see below — opposed to Affirmative Action? [Crickets].

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