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New York Times: Asian-American Quotas in the Ivy League?
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Meritocracy The New York Times, America’s national newspaper of record, has published a forum debating the existence of Asian-American quotas in the Ivy League. My own contribution, drawn from my recent article The Myth of American Meritocracy, focused on the statistical evidence:

Statistics Indicate an Ivy League Asian Quota
Ron Unz, The New York Times, December 19, 2012

Just as their predecessors of the 1920s always denied the existence of “Jewish quotas,” top officials at Harvard, Yale, Princeton and the other Ivy League schools today strongly deny the existence of “Asian quotas.” But there exists powerful statistical evidence to the contrary.

Each year, American universities provide their racial enrollment data to the National Center for Education Statistics, which makes this information available online. After the Justice Department closed an investigation in the early 1990s into charges that Harvard University discriminated against Asian-American applicants, Harvard’s reported enrollment of Asian-Americans began gradually declining, falling from 20.6 percent in 1993 to about 16.5 percent over most of the last decade.

This decline might seem small. But these same years brought a huge increase in America’s college-age Asian population, which roughly doubled between 1992 and 2011, while non-Hispanic white numbers remained almost unchanged. Thus, according to official statistics, the percentage of Asian-Americans enrolled at Harvard fell by more than 50 percent over the last two decades, while the percentage of whites changed little. This decline in relative Asian-American enrollment was actually larger than the impact of Harvard’s 1925 Jewish quota, which reduced Jewish freshmen from 27.6 percent to 15 percent.

The percentages of college-age Asian-Americans enrolled at most of the other Ivy League schools also fell during this same period, and over the last few years Asian enrollments across these different universities have converged to a very similar level and remained static over time. This raises suspicions of a joint Ivy League policy to restrict Asian-American numbers to a particular percentage.

Meanwhile, the California Institute of Technology follows a highly selective but strictly race-neutral admissions policy, and its enrollment of Asian-Americans has grown almost exactly in line with the growth of the Asian-American population.

The last 20 years have brought a huge rise in the number of Asians winning top academic awards in our high schools or being named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists. It seems quite suspicious that none of trends have been reflected in their increased enrollment at Harvard and other top Ivy League universities.

Some individuals have suggested that Asian-Americans no longer apply to the Ivy League in large numbers and this explains their reduced presence. The prestigious University of California system routinely releases the racial totals for its college applicants, which allows the public to examine admission rates by race. During the 1980s, Ivy League colleges sometimes did so as well, but more recently have begun keeping these figures secret. If Harvard and the other Ivy League schools simply released their racial application totals for the last 20 years, we might easily resolve the disturbing suspicion that they have quietly implemented a system of “Asian-American quotas.”

ORDER IT NOW

Since the Ivy League universities currently release their yearly racial totals both for admissions and for enrollments, I cannot see what plausible excuse they might have against also releasing their racial application totals. This would allow us to examine the trends of racial admission rates for the last couple of decades, and decide whether or not these seemed suspicious.

Between 1980 and 1987 the Brown University admissions rate for Asian-American applicants dropped by over 40% compared with that for all other racial groups. This discovery provoked considerable media scrutiny during the 1980s and eventually contributed to a federal investigation into anti-Asian discrimination at elite colleges. Perhaps as a consequence, the Ivy League has steadfastly refused to release any subsequent admissions rate figures, raising obvious suspicions that they might have something to hide.

Last week, Charles Murray of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, one of America’s most prominent social scientists, argued that the statistical data seems to demonstrate a clear pattern of racial discrimination against Asian-American applicants to Ivy League universities. Now this New York Times forum has raised exactly the same question, including similar charges by former Delaware Lt. Governor S.B. Woo, who served as Founding President of 80-20, one of America’s leading Asian-American advocacy organizations.

American academics and journalists all across the political spectrum should begin asking Harvard and the other Ivy League universities to release the racial application totals which might substantiate their claims that they have not adopted “Asian-American quotas.”

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
 
The Meritocracy Series
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  1. HAR says:

    What I find funny is that defenders of AA always say that race is only one factor among many, that they also consider characteristics like “leadership” and “character,” and by relying on these subjective factors they get a more diverse student body.

    The underlying assumption of this is that groups that do poorly on standardized tests are better leaders and all around better people than groups that do well on them.

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  2. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    I suspect you are right about the Asian-American quota, though you do ignore one big point. That’s the emphasis placed by many Asian families on technical careers rather than the arts and humanities. In my own experience, having mentored dozens of kids from a 50% Asian school district, the kids who did get into Caltech were very very bright, but often much more narrowly focussed and not necessarily the most mature either.

    Additionally, many of my fellow Asian parents are very focussed on tests rather than on actual learning and character. It’s actually something I’ve heard colleagues on the faculty at Caltech complain about (kids being willing to do problem sets but not necessarily think).

    That said, I have seen *amazing* Asian students from our high school turned down at Ivies while less impressive white students have gotten admits.

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  3. Hetzer says:

    I like how the defense of the embarrassing statistics is “we don’t have an official policy of only letting in a limited number of Asians, that’s just how our subjective admissions process happens to pan out.”

    Like how the poll tax wasn’t officially racist, but *did* coincidentally happen to fall heavily on recently freed slaves…

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  4. Escher says:

    Asians are the Jews of the late 20th and early 21st century – penalized for their hard work, focus on education and close family ties.

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  5. Personally, I’m strongly in favour of quotas against Asians and Jews. (For the record, I’m South Asian, went to an Ivy League school, work as a biologist now).

    Re: That said, I have seen *amazing* Asian students from our high school turned down at Ivies while less impressive white students have gotten admits.

    Who cares? Admission to a great university isn’t a right, and it isn’t supposed to be some reward for having been born with good genetics. I think social fairness demands that African-Americans and Latinos have representation among educated professionals, leadership circles, and to some degree in scholarship. I don’t want to see our society increasingly dominated by Jewish and Asian cultures.

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  6. cka2nd says:

    HAR says: “The underlying assumption of this is that groups that do poorly on standardized tests are better leaders and all around better people than groups that do well on them.”

    A total strawman of an argument. The underlying assumptions are that while some people do better on standardized tests than others, standardized tests are not the be all and end all predictor of academic performance. Only in your fevered mind do supporters of affirmative action assume that groups that do poorly on standardized tests are “all around better people than groups that do well on them.”

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  7. HAR says:

    “I think social fairness demands that African-Americans and Latinos have representation among educated professionals, leadership circles, and to some degree in scholarship. I don’t want to see our society increasingly dominated by Jewish and Asian cultures.”

    Do Evangelical Christians deserve more representation among the elites? Because they are by far the most underrepresented racial or religious groups among the elites.

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  8. I think that Christians, in general, should have more influence in academia and cultural elite circles, yes. Although I’m not sure that’s relevant here, since religion is a choice, and race isn’t.

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  9. Regardless of this perspective angers any particular population,

    No amount of gamesmanship will change the strategic moves by Universities Ivy League or otherwise, but probably first devised in Ivy Leage circles. When Affirmative Action was first passed the university system knew without much investigation that their policies and poractices toward black and native american populations would be found wanting. Though the policy included women in an attempt to sink it, the move backfired, though there is no record of active discrimination aganst women in allowing women applicants was any similar to the practices with native americans and blacks.

    Though the policy was designed to target and reverse historic discrimination in higher education for the afformentioned groups based on very specific conditions, universities circumvented dealing with those problematic factors by designed diversity recruitment in two populations, white women and asians. By top load them into their educational system as students and staff and faculty subverting the intentions of affirmative action, but filling the design of diversity.

    A term out of the social sciences, which had nothing to do with Affirmative Action.

    The AA programs, and I use the term loosely, do not reflect the the Affirmative Action Legislation. To attack affrimative action based on these programs is not attacking the legislation or wrestling with its intended identified problems or goals.

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  10. Why are we pigeonholing people into groups? People should be judged on their individual merits not on their racial,sexual or religious backgrounds. This is why major symphony orchestras often judge new musician applicants by placing them behind screens so that interviewers cannot see what race or sex they are. This makes the process of hiring more neutral. The same standards should be used for applicants for “prestigious” universities. The selection of students should be objective not subjective. This is only fair.

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  11. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    I recall Unz’s meritocracy article claiming gentile whites were the most underrepresented in Ivy league admissions, not Asians. Does Murray claim there are Gentile quotas , or is that not worth his analysis?

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  12. Homer says:

    What’s all the fuss about? Asians are still overrepresented based on their population.

    Everyone keep moving along…Nothing to see here!

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  13. My saintly inspired comments are being ignored lately by the editors, perhaps because I suggested that Millman get a strong male role model LOL. Seriously though, your point does not make much sense to me. I have a college degree from a reputable institution on the West Coast where Kirk once was an instructor, a professional degree, and have take additional courses at a Catholic seminary and college on the East Coast near Yale. My comments are thoughtful and merit some consideration even if the editors may be prejudiced agains certain points of view.

    Elizabeth Warren was admitted to Harvard on the basis of her claim to be partly indigenous American. Through DNA analysis my ancestry was found this year to go back to chiefs of the Powhatan in Virginia twelve generations ago with >.025% NA blood. I am age 60. Does this make me eligible to attend Harvard on a scholarship because to make up for past race and gender discrimination in America? Or is it because the Ive League gets money from the government ergo the government has a right to tell them whom to accept and reject? Perhaps the solution is to stop taking the government money and admit whomever they determine to be most suitable and let it go at that? You obviously base your analysis on Ivy League graduates making more money. Is this the proper criteria upon which to base future admissions?

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  14. David says:

    Hector_St_Clare says: “Personally, I’m strongly in favour of quotas against Asians and Jews.”

    I disagree with, but can at least understand, being in favor of a higher bar for Asians.

    But what is the justification for a lower bar for Jews?

    Blacks, I can understand, as they are underrepresented relative to the general population.

    But Jews are already (far) over-represented relative to the general population. Why make it easier for them to get into elite universities by lowering their requirements?

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  15. Ivan K. says:

    “But Jews are already (far) over-represented relative to the general population. Why make it easier for them to get into elite universities by lowering their requirements?”

    Could it be that the former explains the latter? The new academic entrenched elites may be less willing to give up control than were the old WASP elites.

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  16. David,

    Affirmative Action does not require the lowering of any bar for anyone. That was not it’s intent and it is certainly not designed in that manner.

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  17. RH says:

    “A total strawman of an argument. The underlying assumptions are that while some people do better on standardized tests than others, standardized tests are not the be all and end all predictor of academic performance. Only in your fevered mind do supporters of affirmative action assume that groups that do poorly on standardized tests are “all around better people than groups that do well on them.””

    This isn’t my imagination, but simple facts. If “leadership” or whatever was distributed equally among populations, then looking beyond standardized tests should not change the ethnic makeup all that much. But whenever standardized tests are given less weight and more “subjective” measures of merit more, in everything from hiring firefighters to picking Ivy League students, blacks get the most benefit, followed by Hispanics, followed by whites, followed by Asians. The only thing we can conclude, then, is that supporters of AA believe that blacks are best in whatever qualities are not measured by standardized tests, followed by Hispanics, followed by whites, followed by Asians.

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  18. In my opinion the US culture and economy, like most, is operated by formal or informal clubs that advance the interests of individuals within the club. The classic example are the eating clubs at Harvard, but there are thousands of regional, religious. Ethnic, and gender-based “clubs” that make a mockery of merit by promoting members because their membership.

    Decision makers want to wield influence not read scores. By advancing the interests of clubs, they enhance their own influence. The more influential the club, the more they listen.

    It is the way of the World.

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  19. Krek says:

    This has nothing to do with genetics and everything to do with culture. And simply put, non-Asian American culture is sick, sick, sick to the core. Where ostensibly ‘conservatives’ like Newt Gingrich wallows in adultery and divorce, where Bristol Palin’s single motherhood and teenage pregnancy is tolerated and applauded. Asian families (both East Asian and South Asian) on the other should be applauded and emulated when it comes to producing such outstanding students and children. It all comes down to family, and strong family ties and respect for elders as well as committed families made up of fathers and mothers. Good old fashioned values, conservative work ethic, strong nuclear families, … these use to be American values. This is the ‘secret’ of why Asian kids do so well, it’s as simple as that. All the liberals defending affirmative action, all the conservatives worried about Asians outdoing ‘native stock’ kids, are just too dumb to figure this out. In contrast, what do you see amongst Blacks, Whites and Hispanics? Single motherhood, absentee fathers, divorce, gay ‘marriage’, anti-intellectualism, partying, smoking weed, drinking, over the top emphasis on sports, etc, etc. The whining you see from non-Asians is shocking, is this still America? where hard work, excellence and success are punished and limited by quotas?

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  20. Finn says: • Website

    In terms of global competitiveness, the realistic reform is flagrantly obvious: eliminate affirmative action for blacks and hispanics, reduce unfair over representation of Jews, and increase the numbers of gentile whites and Asians in accordance with a common sense (although no longer charachtaristic of American culture) view of fair play. But however realistic that proposal, it would collide with today’s American ethnic biases and PC. Notice how the NYT presentation could not be troubled to admit mention of the Jewish/ white gentile controversy as perfectly exposed by the Unz piece in the American Conservative. All the news that’s fit to print, I suppose.

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  21. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    Krek-I didn’t know conservative Republicans ran the Ivy league schools.

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  22. drew says:

    stop asking for and collecting data on race and just admit based on factors relevant to potential success in university level coursework..

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  23. drew says:

    Dear Krek,

    stop generalizing about “non-Asian American Culture” We do not all neatly fit into your shallow stereotype…you no nothing about American culture in my home.. And my color or ethnicity is irrelevant.

    sincerely,

    married, present, non smoking father who cares about my three children as much as their mother does.

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  24. [...] Chinese (aka Asian (and that is complicated)) students are under-represented in US Ivy League school… [...]

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  25. Krek says:

    drew,

    have you seen an episode of Honey Boo Boo ?? Charles Murray’s recent book outlines it very clearly, the decline and fall of the American (white, black) family. It ain’t pretty, and I for one lament it.

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