How Harvard discriminates against Asians

I always knew that my alma mater, Harvard University, discriminates against Asians.  But I was surprised to learn how the university does it.  A lawsuit filed has shed some light on the matter.

(By the way, although I am not a racist, I despise the word "Asians" – it can mean anything from Chinese to Pakistanis.  Although I will play along and continue to use the word "Asians," we are mostly talking about Chinese heritage here, with a smattering of Korean heritage, Japanese heritage, Filipino heritage, and a few other groups of applicants.)

Harvard is being sued by a group claiming that Asians were discriminated against, that applicants of other ethnic groups were admitted with lower credentials.  Surprise, surprise, they were right:

Harvard consistently rated Asian-American applicants lower than others on traits like "positive personality," likability, courage, kindness and being "widely respected," according to an analysis of more than 160,000 student records filed Friday by a group representing Asian-American students in a lawsuit against the university.

Asian-Americans scored higher than applicants of any other racial or ethnic group on admissions measures like test scores, grades and extracurricular activities[.] ... But the students' personal ratings significantly dragged down their chances of being admitted, the analysis found. ...

Harvard conducted an internal investigation into its admissions policies in 2013 and found a bias against Asian-American applicants.  But Harvard never made the findings public or acted on them.

They compare Harvard's treatment of Asian-Americans with its well-documented campaign to reduce the growing number of Jews being admitted to Harvard in the 1920s.  Until then, applicants had been admitted on academic merit.  To avoid adopting a blatant quota system, Harvard introduced subjective criteria like character, personality and promise.  The plaintiffs call this the "original sin of holistic admissions."

I was surprised to learn that Harvard uses a personality "score."  I thought the administrators simply decided that diversity (of skin color) is more important than grades in making their applicant decisions, but I guess Harvard felt that it needed to develop a pseudo-objective "score" that could show blacks and Hispanics as "ranking higher" in order to justify their discrimination.  Unfortunately, in doing so they have created a paper trail showing that they believe that Asians have less capable personalities than other ethnic groups.  Harvard would have been more clever simply to discriminate, period, without making up reasons that disparaged the Asians.

They argue that the same character-based system is being used now to hold the proportion of Asian-Americans at Harvard to roughly 20 percent year after year, except for minor increases, they say, spurred by litigation.

This affects not only Asians.  Even though the policy favored some white applicants over Asians, whites in turn were disfavored over blacks and Hispanics with lower test scores.  If applicants were judged based on scores alone, some whites would do better, and some would do worse, but at least it would be based on consistent criteria.

At the end of the admissions process, the class of applicants is fine-tuned through a so-called "lop list," which includes race.  Almost the entire page in which the plaintiffs describe that fine-tuning has been blacked out.

In a heavily redacted section, the plaintiffs describe how Harvard and 15 other elite schools share notes about the race of admitted students at a meeting of the Association of Black Admissions and Financial Aid Officers of the Ivy League and Sister Schools every year.

Here's where the collusion comes in.  This isn't just about Harvard; it's about a lot of schools, probably even more than these 16 schools.  If top schools admitted students based on merit, they would probably be half Chinese (or more) and half white (or a little less), with only a handful of black or Hispanic students.  I don't necessarily see this as a terrible result.  Why not decide based on merit and let the chips fall where they may?  By the way, blacks and Hispanics have higher college dropout rates than white students, but when they attend schools more commensurate with their academic abilities, their graduation rate tends to increase.

I hope the days of discrimination against Asians and whites at elite graduate schools are numbered, even at my dear beloved Harvard.  This lawsuit is a major step forward.

Ed Straker is the senior writer at Newsmachete.com.

I always knew that my alma mater, Harvard University, discriminates against Asians.  But I was surprised to learn how the university does it.  A lawsuit filed has shed some light on the matter.

(By the way, although I am not a racist, I despise the word "Asians" – it can mean anything from Chinese to Pakistanis.  Although I will play along and continue to use the word "Asians," we are mostly talking about Chinese heritage here, with a smattering of Korean heritage, Japanese heritage, Filipino heritage, and a few other groups of applicants.)

Harvard is being sued by a group claiming that Asians were discriminated against, that applicants of other ethnic groups were admitted with lower credentials.  Surprise, surprise, they were right:

Harvard consistently rated Asian-American applicants lower than others on traits like "positive personality," likability, courage, kindness and being "widely respected," according to an analysis of more than 160,000 student records filed Friday by a group representing Asian-American students in a lawsuit against the university.

Asian-Americans scored higher than applicants of any other racial or ethnic group on admissions measures like test scores, grades and extracurricular activities[.] ... But the students' personal ratings significantly dragged down their chances of being admitted, the analysis found. ...

Harvard conducted an internal investigation into its admissions policies in 2013 and found a bias against Asian-American applicants.  But Harvard never made the findings public or acted on them.

They compare Harvard's treatment of Asian-Americans with its well-documented campaign to reduce the growing number of Jews being admitted to Harvard in the 1920s.  Until then, applicants had been admitted on academic merit.  To avoid adopting a blatant quota system, Harvard introduced subjective criteria like character, personality and promise.  The plaintiffs call this the "original sin of holistic admissions."

I was surprised to learn that Harvard uses a personality "score."  I thought the administrators simply decided that diversity (of skin color) is more important than grades in making their applicant decisions, but I guess Harvard felt that it needed to develop a pseudo-objective "score" that could show blacks and Hispanics as "ranking higher" in order to justify their discrimination.  Unfortunately, in doing so they have created a paper trail showing that they believe that Asians have less capable personalities than other ethnic groups.  Harvard would have been more clever simply to discriminate, period, without making up reasons that disparaged the Asians.

They argue that the same character-based system is being used now to hold the proportion of Asian-Americans at Harvard to roughly 20 percent year after year, except for minor increases, they say, spurred by litigation.

This affects not only Asians.  Even though the policy favored some white applicants over Asians, whites in turn were disfavored over blacks and Hispanics with lower test scores.  If applicants were judged based on scores alone, some whites would do better, and some would do worse, but at least it would be based on consistent criteria.

At the end of the admissions process, the class of applicants is fine-tuned through a so-called "lop list," which includes race.  Almost the entire page in which the plaintiffs describe that fine-tuning has been blacked out.

In a heavily redacted section, the plaintiffs describe how Harvard and 15 other elite schools share notes about the race of admitted students at a meeting of the Association of Black Admissions and Financial Aid Officers of the Ivy League and Sister Schools every year.

Here's where the collusion comes in.  This isn't just about Harvard; it's about a lot of schools, probably even more than these 16 schools.  If top schools admitted students based on merit, they would probably be half Chinese (or more) and half white (or a little less), with only a handful of black or Hispanic students.  I don't necessarily see this as a terrible result.  Why not decide based on merit and let the chips fall where they may?  By the way, blacks and Hispanics have higher college dropout rates than white students, but when they attend schools more commensurate with their academic abilities, their graduation rate tends to increase.

I hope the days of discrimination against Asians and whites at elite graduate schools are numbered, even at my dear beloved Harvard.  This lawsuit is a major step forward.

Ed Straker is the senior writer at Newsmachete.com.