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Short End of the Stick

October 8, 2014 Articles, Letters
Letter to the PAW in response to: Undergraduate Yield Up, Grad Yield Down Published on October 8, 2014 Students of Asian descent at Princeton (and elsewhere in the United States) seem to get the short end of the stick on campus, as highlighted by two articles in the June 4 issue. With respect to the racial composition of the school (“Undergraduate Yield Up, Grad Yield Down”), Asians are touted by school administrators as “minorities” in order to add to the diversity count of the class. Yet it is also well known that administrators place a higher bar for Asian students in admission to college, where they have to outperform not only their minority peers on entrance examinations (by large margins) but also whites (as highlighted by the research of sociology professor Thomas Espenshade *72) to have the same chance of admission. And on campus, even though the single largest racial minority group is Asians, discussions about race, discrimination, stereotypes, etc. never seem to include them (“Student Dispatch: Encounters With Racism, Captured on a Whiteboard”); yet there are many negative prejudices that the group has to deal with. Too bad the whiteboard campaign did not include an Asian student holding a sign proclaiming:…

Asian immigrant experience defies easy comparisons

November 5, 2012 Articles, Letters
Letter to the Wall Street Journal (November 2, 2012) Although Asian-Americans as a whole have achieved a lot of success (as measured by household income and education), they still lag on many indicators, most notably social inclusion, where they still seem relegated to the lower echelons of social hierarchy. Several years ago when I was working at an investment bank in New York City, I went to an Upper West Side house party of a fellow Princeton alumnus.  I was dressed in a tailored shirt with designer cuff links and wore Italian leather shoes.  I approached the security desk in the lobby with a bottle of wine in a bag and asked for the room number of my friend.  The guard asked if I was making a Chinese food delivery. Kai L. Chan Dubai, United Arab Emirates Letter as it appeared in the WSJ Copyright ©2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.  All Rights Reserved

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…

Being a minority in the West

September 19, 2003 Articles, Princeton writings
I wish I were back in Japan. I went to the land of the rising sun this past summer to visit several friends and to explore a place that has always enchanted me. Although Murphy’s Law applied on the trip (let’s not go there), I hold no gripes against Japan; indeed, I really liked the place. Despite everything that went wrong on the trip, I gained a new perspective on being a minority in the West. Growing up as a minority in a Western society poses many challenges. Many people often remark that minorities growing up in the West face an identity crisis. Although true for some, in my case, I would certainly say that I had no such crisis. I grew up in Toronto, Canada, and I say very proudly that Toronto is the most tolerant and diverse city in the world. It is still far from perfect, but I miss the social acceptance of Toronto now that I am living in conservative, homogeneous Princeton. Even New York City seems to be lacking something. In any case, the overt racism of the United States is something I find unsettling, although it is still more progressive here than most other…




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