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Admissions policies unfair to Asians

November 29, 2004 Articles, Princeton writings
Fifteen percent of Princeton undergraduates are Asian-Americans (among domestic students).  Compared with peer institutions, this is actually a low figure.  At Yale and Harvard, Asians make up 17 and 19 percent of the population, respectively.  Although these are high numbers, enrollment would actually increase if not for current legislation. What would happen to the number of Asians at elite schools if admissions were truly race-blind?  In the California school system, race is prohibited by law from being a factor in college admissions (although statistics still point to bias against Asians).  A simple back-of-the-envelope calculation based on the increased enrolment of Asian-Americans in California schools after they passed proposition 209, SAT scores and historical extrapolation based on quota-like discrimination against Jews pre-WWII, shows that if not for race-based preferences, Asians would account for about 30 percent of the population at schools like Harvard and Princeton.  This would certainly change the landscape of higher learning. Should schools like Princeton support programs like affirmative action?  First, let me critique affirmative action.  It should not be cloaked as a tool to overcome historical discrimination or slavery.  For one, this implies that Asians do not face discrimination or past prejudices (e.g., the Chinese Exclusion Act…




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