Patterico's Pontifications


Asian Student Files Complaint Alleging Discrimination by Princeton in Admissions

Filed under: General,Race — Patterico @ 1:51 pm

The Wall Street Journal reports that an Asian student with a perfect SAT score who was rejected by Princeton has filed a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, alleging discrimination by Princeton against Asians.

[Jian Li] ultimately focused his complaint against Princeton after reading a 2004 study by three Princeton researchers concluding that an Asian-American applicant needed to score 50 points higher on the SAT than other applicants to have the same change of admission to an elite university.

“As an Asian-American and a native of China, my chances of admission were drastically reduced,” Mr. Li claims in his complaint.

Interesting — especially given reports that colleges have worried that their classes are “too Asian.”

Granted, colleges look at more than SAT scores. I don’t know what the rest of Mr. Li’s record looks like. And he’s hardly suffering; he’s a student at Yale.

But the fact remains that discrimination in favor of one race is discrimination against people of all other races. It has real-world effects. Not every Asian discriminated against will be able to land at Yale.

I’ll keep an eye on this one.

27 Responses to “Asian Student Files Complaint Alleging Discrimination by Princeton in Admissions”

  1. God I hate race based preferences.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  2. “Diversity” is just the Left’s code word for politically-acceptable racism.

    If you are not the color du jour, then back of the buss, Chinaman!

    ‘nuf said.

    Darleen (03346c)

  3. “… colleges have worried that their classes are ‘too Asian.'”

    Too many fender-benders in the parking lot, right? Those Chinese will never learn how to drive.

    nk (41da82)

  4. I think HYPS (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford) and other elite private colleges clearly have functionally higher entrance standards for Asians than for other minorities, especially blacks. Even so, virtually all elite private colleges and many large public universities have disproportionately large enrollments of Asians compared to the various ethnic percentages of the general population. I think this is due to the fact that many Asians value education and work hard to succeed academically.

    After Grutter and Gratz, most colleges adopted or ramped up admissions policies designed to increase Hispanic, Native American, and especially black enrollment in order to meet or exceed national demographics. For several years, the outlier in college enrollment statistics has been Asian enrollment and, sadly, many colleges do not view that as admirable or desirable.

    DRJ (1be297)

  5. We see this all the time … even in job listings, e.g. “Equal opportunity employer. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply.” In this case, it’s “Non-Asians are encouraged to apply.”

    And, with a straight face, they’ll claim neither statement is discriminatory.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  6. two wongs don’t make a right, ok?
    asians are victims of affirmative action as much as whites. i don’t know if they’re smarter or just have better study habits/academic discipline, they’re already well-represented at most colleges and would do even better in the ideal colorblind meritocracy.
    this guy had perfect sat scores? pretty good. problem with his suit: princeton is a private institution, and it has greater leeway to construct a student body that “looks like america” or at least looks like an airport terminal in hong kong. yes i know there’s a federal hook if it benefits from federally insured student loans, but it’s still a harder row and it would be better for all of us if immigrant natives of china would put their superior wits to something other than milking our racial liability tits.

    assistant devil's advocate (52f3a6)

  7. it would be better for all of us if immigrant natives of china would put their superior wits to something other than milking our racial liability tits.

    Do you mean to say that because the racism didn’t ruin his life, it’s no big deal?

    Linus (719cc0)

  8. “… it would be better for all of us if immigrant natives of china would put their superior wits to something other than milking our racial liability tits.”

    I suppose it’s slightly less racist than “I wish those n-words would either shut up or go back to Africa”.

    nk (4cd0c2)

  9. Why do you assume they are immigrants?

    sharon (dfeb10)

  10. I am opposed to racial discrimination of whatever motivation. However, it’s hard to do an apples-to-apples comparison of student groups across races.

    There are at least two other considerations:

    1) In the case of an Asian who is an immigrant, and also, but much less so, of one whose parents are immigrants, he may test very well in math and even verbal SATs, but in reality have weaker writing and speaking skills than native speakers with similar test scores and grades. (It is easier to cram for the SAT than to actually speak English like a native.)

    2) A college would rather have an applicant with a B+ average, who did reasonable amounts of work in high school, but also put energy into, say, sports or drama, as well as a social life — because the college expects such a student either to continue such activities (good for the social life of the school), or, if he does not, that he will be able in college to work much harder than he did in high school. (In contrast, a super-hard-working A-average high schooler may look better on paper, but won’t be able to step up his effort in college, because he is already putting in as much effort as he can.)

    Most of us apparently believe that Asians (in the US and overseas) work much harder in high school than do non-Asians, presumably because of family and social pressures. This is a good thing for Asian academic success, but it is not as good for college success as would be indicated by grades and test scores attained in high school, because in college Asians cannot maintain such a high relative level of work — if only because nonAsians are working much harder in college than in high school.

    Of course, one could have different reactions to a college which is apparently tougher on Asian applicants, but only because of indirect effects of choosing students who seem well-rested or have “soft” extracurriculars (drama, say, instead of classical violin), versus a college which just assumes that all Asians are nerdy drones.

    3) (Related to #2, although I think it is probably not valid here, is this possibility:) From what I understand of Japanese people in Japan, at any rate, many are burned out after high school and test-coaching etc. In that country it is crucially important to exceed and get into a good college, but once there many barely put in any effort. (To be fair, I have not seen this in US Ivy League schools from Asians, but rather more from white jocks and preps.)

    DWPittelli (87ad39)

  11. A couple of comments from a Michigander.Many of us are waiting to see the results of the no preference legislation.The elephant in the tent is why certain minorities (especially African Americans) do so badly.I never read The Bell Curve,probably because it worried me it was correct.(I’m not alone in that.There was a psychologist at Yale (Kamens,I believe),who quit doing IQ/etnicity research becaause “I didn’t think I would have liked what I found.”
    But,HYPS are private schools.I think they should be allowed to do whatever they want for admissions.
    By the way,when at med school the student on the admission committee was allowed to look at data and vote,just like a faculty member.Obviously,this is something that required confidentiallity.But it’s been nearly 25(sob) years,so I guess it’s OK.We used an objective scale to measure numbers(MCAT plus GPA) and ranked from top to bottom among acceptees.The lowest MCAT was 2.1which is about 1%.The acceptee didn’t have he lowest GPA though,although it was just above a 2.0.I remember asking my cousin ,who was on the faculty,how this person could practice medicine.His response was,”Oh,don’t worry.(S)he’ll never graduate.”

    lincoln (44781e)

  12. why do you assume they are immigrants?
    “as an asian-american and a native of china, my chances of admission were drastically reduced” mr. li claims in his complaint.
    do you mean to say that because the racism didn’t ruin his life, it’s no big deal?
    his first choice was princeton but he had to settle for yale. since i’m not an ivy leaguer, i can’t relate to the awful emotional meltdown such a turn of fate could engender. ivy leaguers, can you help me out here?
    i suppose it’s slightly less racist than “i wish those n-words would either shut up or go back to africa.”
    i’m just grinning at the irony of this remark coming from the same source who trotted out the old asians-are-bad-drivers canard in comment #3. it’s also slightly less racist than that.
    good morning all! salmon fishing today if the rain stops.

    assistant devil's advocate (523ea2)

  13. DWO SWO

    PC14 (98b75e)

  14. Many elite colleges seem to prefer well-qualified applicants who have a big hook (e.g., students who have good grades, good SATS, and exemplary achievement in one area). That doesn’t mean well-rounded applicants need not apply but colleges have been inundated in recent years with applicants with 8-page single-spaced resumes listing various activities. Many college admissions departments now prefer applicants who have demonstrated achievement with state or even national recognition in some undertaking. One of the current big hooks for applicants is to have started a successful business, and that means a real business, not lawn-mowing or baby-sitting, at 16 or younger. Today, elite college admissions is one tough place.

    Yes, there are multitudes of qualified applicants for every elite college. It’s not unheard of for elite colleges to turn down an applicant with a 1600 SAT but it’s not common either given the importance of the US News rankings where SAT is a large component. Elite private colleges have their pick of students and they should be free to admit and accept according to their own standards but I think there should be some legal limits. I don’t want colleges to turn down a qualified applicant simply because s/he is disabled and in a wheelchair. Similarly, I don’t want colleges to single out a particular ethnicity for worse treatment. I don’t agree with affirmative action but I understand the premise: colleges give special consideration to disadvantaged applicants, especially blacks and Native Americans. It’s another thing to single out Asians to make up the difference simply because they culturally embrace education and academic achievement.

    Numbers can be instructive. There are many Asians (foreign and American born) who are well-qualified for elite colleges and a large percentage of those apparently want to attend elite colleges. These applicants clearly have a much harder time getting accepted compared to similarly qualfied minority applicants. Their treatment is reminiscent of the quotas on Jewish students practiced at some elite colleges in the early 20th Century, and I think that’s what this lawsuit wants to show.

    On a side note, it will be amazing to see the discovery process in this lawsuit. Elite college admissions are notoriously private and cloistered. The discovery process will drive Princeton crazy (and I suspect Princeton’s sister schools will be just as anxious) because it will expose the college admission standards … or lack of standards. In the famous Taliban-at-Yale case last year, John Fund reported this comment from a former Yale dean:

    Donald Kagan, a history professor and former dean of Yale College, told me there is growing anecdotal evidence that the supersecret world of university admissions often operates in such a capricious or unpredictable way that “people are justified in questioning the fairness of the process.” He suggests that both public and private universities voluntarily disclose more of their admissions procedures to satisfy concerns that abuses are common. “If we have policies that we are proud of, then we should let people know how they operate,” he told me.

    The handwriting was on the wall. Lawsuits like this one have been coming for some time and the elite colleges saw them coming.

    DRJ (1be297)

  15. My best friend is an attorney who has his BA from Columbia and his JD from Michigan. One of his law profs at Michigan, a supposedly liberal supporter of race preferences, told him that if they didn’t have affirmative action the law school would be almost 100% Asian and Jewish.

    In 1946 my father, o’b’m’, applied to two veterinary schools, Michigan State and Cornell. Corner denied him and in writing said they already had enough of “your kind” in the vet school there. I suppose that in 1946, as a Jew my father wasn’t enough of a white European to go to an Ivy League school, while in 2006 his grandson is considered too much of a white European. When Mo (1550 SAT – perfect math score and a 3.95 GPA) applied for college I kidded him that he should describe his high school (a yeshiva) as a “cultural immersion school with four languages of instruction, where they studied ancient esoteric texts in their original languages”.

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    Ronnie Schreiber (ef2d23)

  16. One of the current big hooks for applicants is to have started a successful business, and that means a real business, not lawn-mowing

    Which goes to show just how elitist the Ivys are. Since when is lawn-mowing not a business? A teenager I know started up a small lawn-mowing business and operates it like any other small business. He uses professional grade equipment and works in a professional manner. Should he leave town to complete his studies, his younger brothers will keep up the business and when they get out of school they’ll have a functioning business as an option. I knew one kid in high school that was too stupid to get into a community college (not being elitist here, he was considered stupid by the dummies even) so he started a landscaping and snowplow business while still in high school. He now has a number of crews working for him and lives in a million dollar house in West Bloomfield.

    Ronnie Schreiber (ef2d23)

  17. Ronnie,

    I should have put *real* in quotes. I was trying to convey the typical attitude of admissions committees, not my own. Most elite college admission committees discount jobs like babysitting and lawnmowing but that doesn’t make them right to do so.

    DRJ (1be297)

  18. No more of this race based prefrences its time to abolish affirmative action

    krazy kagu (fb44c4)

  19. his first choice was princeton but he had to settle for yale. since i’m not an ivy leaguer, i can’t relate to the awful emotional meltdown such a turn of fate could engender. ivy leaguers, can you help me out here?

    ok, I think we’re clear. It’s ok to be racist to rich/talented/smart people, because their lives are ok despite the racism. got it, thanks.

    Linus (719cc0)

  20. Asian are good at study is because there are
    higher percentage of Asians have good “academic”
    genes, just like the Blacks are good at sports.

    How do you explain why there are almost all blacks
    in a lot of sports teams ? Because there are higher percentage of black people than Asian have
    the good “Sports” genes.

    Why can’t the world just face the facts:
    Asian and Jewish are smarter!
    Just like the fact blacks are stronger!
    and the Hispanic are sturdier!

    Gale (546e82)

  21. Why should school admission be ‘fair’? Someone will always lose in some way. Your life will not be ruined if you don’t get into Princeton.

    frenchfries (e07696)

  22. I worked hard and did everything I was supposed to do. I took the hardest classes and completed all the AP courses by my junior year. I was rejected by ALL the top schools (ivys included)that I applied to during my junior year.
    By the way I studied hard, played a varsity sport since freshman year, ect.. I AM ASIAN (2nd generation). I left my race out of my Princeton application, but was asked “the question” during my interview. I want to be judged for my hard work and not my skin tone. In this country society have more respect and admiration for the Britney Spears than the future doctor that is going to save thousands of lives. In this country we do not reward hard work. These decisions promote more racisms.
    If I was trying out for a sport, a coach would select the fastest athlete. I want to be a great surgeon, dont’ you want the best doctor in your emergency room????

    princetonrejectedanotherasian (a9e18b)

  23. This is 2007. The hot minority groups are African American, Hispanics, and American Indian.
    Asians were hot in the 80s…

    The only criteria for college admission should be academic skills. Poor or rich, it is necessary for every student to dedicate time to their education.

    Admission offices are sending the wrong message to those who worked hard. Something is wrong when Princeton accepted two African American students from an affluent school with the easiest course load and average transcript. It is understandable if Princeton had accepted two African American students from a poor community,
    but Princeton was so desperate to meet the African American quota last spring, the college rejected more qualified students for two average African American students. The two students have dark skin but they enjoy the wonderful, suburban life of every upper middle class white kid.

    Princeton’s decision was a blatant disregard for hard work. These actions promote racism in the young minds of all the White and Asian students that worked hard. How can they ignore the urge to discriminate and become just a little racist??? This was their reward for listening to their parents and teachers. This was their reward for being good and working hard.

    richschoolguidance (a9e18b)

  24. Affirmative action is just a quota system in sheeps clothing. “Diversity” is used to essentially discriminate. Asians are paying the price for other minority groups who cannot compete due to past discriminatory practices against them. Instead of fixing the problem correctly of why they can’t compete (fix public schools at the elementary level in particular), they punish those who work hard and blame them for not being “well-rounded or one-dimensional” Why can’t everyone see this? Asians face more institutionalized racism today than any other group when it comes to education and job placement.

    Tom (ab13d0)

  25. i’m applying to some ivies and i am asian. my hopes are slim.

    Annie (307bb2)

  26. You Asians could take a page from Obama who is 6% black. Are you really sure there’s no preferred minority blood in your DNA? Change you name to LaKeisha or Tyrone, say you renounced your Cribs membership, get adopted by a black family, etc.

    If your chances are less than a white person’s, don’t mention that intelligent asian blood. Good luck.

    madmax333 (0c6cfc)

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