Good Judgment. Wise Counsel. Aggressive Representation.

Asian Americans are victims of discrimination at Harvard and other Ivy Colleges

On Behalf of | Oct 11, 2018 | Nacht Law in the News |

This is a very interesting piece, No, Affirmative Action Has Not Made Asian-Americans the ‘New Jews’, by an academic expert, Jerome Karabel, arguing that Ivy League colleges are not unlawfully discriminating against Asian Americans as alleged in a currently pending lawsuit in Boston. I disagree with it, but it is worth reading.

The author of this piece and the lawsuit both address the current issue by raising the historical analogy that the Ivys directly and intentionally discriminated against Jews in the early to mid-twentieth century. Jews were stereotyped back then as good at math, playing the violin, and too interpersonally pushy. In numbers too large, they were perceived as bad for campus life. The Ivys established interviews for alumni to meet with college applicants to screen for Jews.

In the 1960s, the quota for Jews went away, because the colleges decided that antisemitism could not be dressed up as something good. But they kept the interview process.

In recent years, according to the lawsuit, the number of Asian Americans has remained remarkably constant at the Ivys in spite of the increasing number of Asian American applicants who have high grades and test scores. The Ivys state they want all sorts of people at their schools, athletes and actors, musicians and humanitarians, technical experts and business leaders. And they deny they discriminate against Asian Americans.

Those bringing the lawsuit however present evidence that Asian Americans score lower on personality reviews among alumni interviewers than whites. That fact was enough for a judge to deny summary judgment for Harvard and allow the case to proceed to trial. The lawsuit seeks to end the lawfulness of looking at all at the racial or ethnic background of applicants.

The author of this piece contends, not persuasively in my view, that Asian Americans are not stereotyped today in the same way as Jews were decades ago, and that admissions diversity is positive.

I agree with the author that diversity is positive, and I desire to have a campus with people of a variety of backgrounds, but not at the expense of putting a quota on Asian Americans. They are stereotyped! Ivy college admissions personnel do keep the numbers of Asian Americans in a balance, and admissions officers have no business doing so. That’s racial discrimination. They do so for reasons remarkably similar (although the social stereotypes differ) to the way that the Ivys kept the number of Jews balanced seventy years ago.

Since Harvard was founded in 1636, it and the other Ivys have opened doors and led the way to success in America for its graduates. That door should be open as wide for Asian Americans as any other group.

If you want to take athletes and actors, that’s fine. But don’t say we have too many kids of a particular race. That is illegal. 

Read the full article published in HuffPost on October 11, 2018, “No, Affirmative Action Has Not Made Asian-Americans the ‘New Jews’.”, by Jerome Karabel.  

Archives