"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Scandal of Ivy League Quotas

Glenn Reynolds has a column up highlighting the scandal of the Ivy League's reverse quota system, in which high-achieving Asian students are admitted in much smaller numbers than their achievements would merit.   Everyone has known about this for the longest time, but now apparently some Asian families are fed up enough to challenge the practice in court.   Good for them.  

Here is the gist of  Reynolds' piece, which makes the persuasive point that the quotas against Asians are the descendants of 1920s and 1930s quotas against Jews:
Decades ago, the Ivy League colleges thought they had a problem: too many Jews. These recent immigrants, from a culture that prized education and academic achievement, had an unfortunate characteristic: They worked harder, studied longer and cared more about school. In short, they had all the attributes required for success in the Ivy League.... 
But while the quotas for Jews are gone, the Ivy League now, by all accounts, has quotas for Asian students. They are seen as people who study too hard, boring grinds who aren't much fun — and, of course, their parents aren't as rich and connected. And though the numbers of highly qualified Asian applicants have grown dramatically, the number of Asians admitted stays pretty much the same every year.  
Now the Asian students are suing. In a lawsuit against Harvard, they are claiming that Harvard demands higher qualifications from Asian students than from others, and that it uses "racial classifications to engage in the same brand of invidious discrimination against Asian Americans that it formerly used to limit the number of Jewish students in its student body." 
These claims are almost certainly correct. Discrimination against Asian students — and not just by Harvard, but throughout higher education — has been an open secret for years. Asian students, we're told, face a "bamboo ceiling" as a result.

The data supporting this "bamboo ceiling" in the Ivy League is damning.   In fact, I think it would be hard to survive summary judgment in a class action case against the 8 Ivy League schools alleging that they have conspired to deprive Asian students equal opportunity.   Consider this chart:

That convergence of the lines to me screams out that there has been an unwritten agreement (read: conspiracy) to limit the enrollment of Asian students.

Look, the moral bankrupcty of affirmative action as currently practiced in America ought to be evident whenever any individual is discriminated against (or discriminated in favor of) because of the color of their skin.   It's not morally less suspect to discriminate against a suburban white eighteen year-old in favor of a black or Hispanic eighteen year-old.   But it sadly seems more persuasive when a racial minority (Asians) is discriminated against in favor of another racial minority (blacks).  

The answer to past discrimination is not more discrimination.   That way lies tribal warfare.   God help us if we don't realize that, and soon.

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