Affirmative Action Battle Has a New Focus: Asian-Americans
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/pos ... 4234e72321By most standards, Austin Jia holds an enviable position. A rising sophomore at Duke, Mr. Jia attends one of the top universities in the country, setting him up for success.
But with his high G.P.A., nearly perfect SAT score and activities — debate team, tennis captain and state orchestra — Mr. Jia believes he should have had a fair shot at Harvard, Princeton, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania. Those Ivy League colleges rejected him after he applied in the fall of 2015.
It was particularly disturbing, Mr. Jia said, when classmates with lower scores than his — but who were not Asian-American, like him — were admitted to those Ivy League institutions.
The case, which is clearly aimed for the Supreme Court, puts Asian-Americans front and center in the latest stage of the affirmative action debate. The issue is whether there has been discrimination against Asian-Americans in the name of creating a diverse student body. The Justice Department, which has signaled that it is looking to investigate “intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions,” may well focus on Harvard.
The Harvard case asserts that the university’s admissions process amounts to an illegal quota system, in which roughly the same percentage of African-Americans, Hispanics, whites and Asian-Americans have been admitted year after year, despite fluctuations in application rates and qualifications.
Don’t use Asian Americans to justify anti-affirmative action politics
The Trump administration’s Justice Department recently announced that it would investigate and file suit against colleges and universities whose affirmative action policies discriminate on the basis of race. This new priority is unsurprising: Conservatives have long opposed affirmative action, and cracking down on policies perceived to disadvantage white people is likely to play well with Trump’s nearly all-white base.
Yet affirmative action opponents are trying hard to argue that they are concerned about more than just white people. A comment by Roger Clegg, president of the conservative Center for Equal Opportunity, provides a window into one strategy the latest war on affirmative action will probably adopt. “It is frequently the case that not only are whites discriminated against now, but frequently Asian Americans are, as well,” Clegg said.