A Damaging Bid to Censor Applications at Harvard

If a lawsuit over affirmative action is successful, would-be college students may have to hide their race.

Comments: 243

  1. Why should a college not strive to have the best students, not merely ones who are acceptable? Why should anyone ever expect student bodies to reflect the ethnic/racial composition of the overall population if the distribution of high school graduates, let alone high achieving high school graduates, doesn't match?

    By the way, just to add to the richness of this discussion, I would like to see the stats on which majors minority students pursue at Harvard and Rutgers.

  2. Harvard should just replace the "race question" with a requirement that all applicants submit DNA samples for analysis. DNA testing would then help to determine if the applicant has the appropriate genetic potential to be a future US President or Supreme Court justice, since Harvard grads have a 50% chance of being one or the other.

  3. Weaskininnocence: How does one hide one's personal appearance? Is it not possible that the decision to enroll or not enroll an applicant is made as soon as the physical being appears for the final enrollment interview?

  4. Sure, race ought not to be ignored because it forms a significant chunk of an applicant's identity, but is that really what is under discussion here? The proposal to redact mentions of race is one pragmatic method for instituting a broader idea: that race should not be weighed as heavily in admissions decisions as it currently is. How is it fair to deny a qualified applicant of Asian origin simply because there are too many others like him or her? How people from one's race or ethnicity are doing in terms of academic performance and positions/representations in the academic arena ought not to have an impact on one's own application and candidacy. And yet it does. Asians are "over-represented", while other minorities are "under-represented".
    Currently, affirmative action policies at top universities use race as the most important criterion--over economic status--which disadvantages certain minority groups. The choice is not between being able to discuss race or not; it's between allowing race to be such a high priority factor in admissions.
    This is not just about "whiteness"; it actively hinders the prospects of minorities that are, for lack of a better phrase, not in vogue these days. I, for one, am rooting for Edward Blum, despite his record, intentions, and my own (leftist) leanings. Even a broken clock clock is right twice a day.

  5. If someone doesn't identify by race because they consider race a social construct, that person should be free to identify as "human race." That's me, even though I know other people look at me and think "white guy," and I'm aware of the privileges I enjoy as a result.

    In the meantime, those who do identify by race must be free to state their identity.

    And colleges and universities, in pursuing their educational mission of excellence (but not missions of exclusion or white supremacy), must be allowed to consider racial identity in assembling their student bodies through the admissions process.

    No one is entitled to a seat at Harvard, and anyone qualified for Harvard will be able to find a seat somewhere else.

  6. @Sam I Am

    I genuflect in the direction of Haaar-vaaaard ( as Yalies like to say.)

  7. @Sam I Am: so you believe that Harvard (and other elite schools) should continue to DISCRIMINATE against Asian students?

  8. So the plaintiffs want to use only the selection criteria they want over what the school feels in necessary. Hmmm, seems to me Harvard didn’t become Harvard by taking their admissions cues from failed applicants. They probably should be forced to start now.

  9. @William Raudenbush

    Maybe those "failed" applicants failed bc Harvard has secret racial quotas for some minorities. If Harvard really wants the best then why does race matter?

  10. @William Raudenbush

    Maybe those "failed" applicats really failed b/c of Harvard's secret racial quota for some minorities. If they really want the best then why not be race neutral?

  11. @William Raudenbush

    Maybe those "failed" applicants really failed b/c of Harvard's secret racial quota for some minorities. If they really want the best then why not be race neutral?

  12. We don't like the use of race in setting up voting laws or employment practices. But a teeny-tiny bit of race is just a welcome seasoning in deciding who gets into an Ivy League institution. Which is the same thing as deciding who is kept out.

    Apparently, keeping applicants out because of their race is all a part of "building bridges across communities."

  13. I think back on when orchestras started having auditions with the musician behind a screen--suddenly, a large number of women appeared to be really good at whatever they were playing, good enough to become orchestra members.

    With regard to college admissions, there is nothing to stop a young person from writing that he/she grew up in a poor neighborhood, went to lousy schools, will be the first in the family to attend college, had parents who struggled with English and/or low paying jobs, had to work while going to school to help support the family, had to care for siblings or a sick parent, etc.

    Those qualities are important regardless of race; I think race blind admissions are a good idea.

  14. Why emphasize that asian americans make up 25% of the class but then put in parenthesis that they're only 6% of the population overall? As if they're already getting more than they "deserve"? Pretty sure each and every one of those students earned their spot.

    I think this is a harmful point to make and speaks to the larger fears of many Asian Americans that they're not truly being heard in this case - that the policies in place are not helping them, but hurting them. That the policies are meant to be some sort of "racial balancing" and social experiment that directly affects their chances at success.

  15. They surely don’t make up 6% of the population globally.

  16. if Asian students represent 6% of the population and 22% of the Harvard admissions, it is very difficult to argue that Asian students are being discriminated against in any fashion.

  17. As I see it, the major problem with admissions to elite schools is not refusing to base admissions solely on test scores and grades. Everyone knows that talent and personality are not well measured by those standards. The problem is the number of kids offered admission based on their social connections and the amount of money donated to the university by parents or being the son or daughter of a prominent alumni. These are private schools and have the right to construct their student body the way they want to do that. It's ultimately useless to try to dictate their admissions policy.

  18. @jonr: Then why pretend that grades even matter? Why not admit those with the biggest bags of money and be done with the charade?

  19. @jonr

    "These are private schools and have the right to construct their student body the way they want to do that."

    Right. Such is the prerogative of private tyrannies. And the effort to privatize the public continues apace.

  20. Boddie ignores the fact that Harvard interviewers scored Asian applicants just as highly as White ones and then downgraded their scores at the internal review stage on the basis of race.

    This is an intentional and perpetuated injustice.

  21. I am completely in favor of this lawsuit. Affirmative action, in effect, is a windfall to one and an injustice to another. When a young person exercises diligence and discipline during the pre-college life they should not be told that they are the wrong color or the wrong race. Affirmative action had its time and place, but it has run its course. We need to get back to fairness and merit. We need only look at the appointments made during the Obama adminstration (I voted for him) and see that qualified white males were overlooked in favor of minorities and women. That is an outrage and probably contributed to a decline in the quality of service rendered. Being one color or another should not be a disqualfying characteristic. It is outrageous that these things even have to be stated.

  22. @Bryan. Well said.

  23. @Bryan: Why is it an "outrage?" The "minorities and women" weren't unqualified, after all. Or can you show that they are? My sense is that you, like many other commenters here, are simply assuming that minorities and women are less qualified for those appointments than white men. I've seen no detailed scientific analysis showing that they are. Have you?

  24. @Bryan
    As long as there is a taint from segregation, the game is rigged. The wealthy parts of the Hamptons are all white. The game is still rigged.

  25. College (and job) applications should be blinded to race, gender and religion. This eliminates any potential conflict between birth gender/race and self selected gender/race. Only grades and test scores should determine admission. Including any reference to gender and race always leaves open the possibility of discrimination of one sort or another.

  26. I do not understand people’s obsession with limiting consideration to nothing but grades and test scores. Grades are not equal. I’m pretty sure you cannot compare an A in biology at Riverdale Country, which costs $54,000/year to an A in biology at August Martin public high school in Queens, which has a 39% graduation rate (that’s not a typo).

    And it would be ridiculously insulting to everyone’s intelligence, particularly the admissions staff at Harvard to ask them to pretend that the valedictorian at August Martin had the same opportunities as even the bottom of the class at Riverdale Country.

    And the only nationally standard exams are the AP exams (courses not offered at every school), the SAT, ACT, and SAT subject tests.

    I thought we wanted to move away from making school all about testing. . .

  27. To ignore identity in college applications is to pretend that each applicant is on a level playing field. They're not.

  28. @westie

    To pretend that Black applicants to Harvard can't be privileged sons or daughters of Doctors or other professionals is to stereotype POC.

  29. @westie

    So is it RIGHT then to level playing field by lumping students(applicants) together simply by their RACE or SKIN COLOR? Sit back and ponder on it for a minute.
    Are all WHITE people the same? ALL Blacks the same? ALL Asians?
    Are we solving a problem or really creating a MUCH WORSE one?

    Love to hear fair, honest, open-minded discussions.

  30. @westie
    Sorry life is not fair.

  31. Professor Boddie, I assume that you have NOT advised Harvard on how to comply with federal law on affirmative action because if you had, you would have been obliged to reveal that conflict of interest in your first sentence.

    Your impassioned plea against color-line university admissions and against the suit by Asian-Americans ignores the details provided by the plaintiffs in this matter. Contrary to your argument, Harvard did not ignore race. It looked at Asian applicants with stellar records and decided, in large numbers, to reject them because of alleged "personality" problems. Sorry. That just won't wash. Either students have the academic record to get into Harvard or they don't. When large number of ONLY Asians are rejected because of purported "personality" or "character" flaws that ARE NOT SUBSTANTIATED IN THE RECORD or who have not even been interviewed in person.......well, I find it hard to believe that this was not the result of a deliberate policy to minimize the number of Asian-Americans in the class.

    Discrimination is not wholly unfamiliar at Harvard. There was a time decades ago when the university made a deliberate policy of rejecting Jews, so there would not be "too many" of them. That became known, then the policy changed.

    I am curious to see how the case turns out. Clearly, there will be much that is currently hidden about Harvard that will come into the open. Good.

  32. @Lenore

    Bravo. I'd like to know Professor Biddle's view regarding Asians being "rejected because of purported "personality" or "character" flaws that ARE NOT SUBSTANTIATED IN THE RECORD . . . ."

    I'm reminded of a certain relative's using the phrase "Chinaman's chance" in describing the (un-)likelihood of something occurring.

  33. @Lenore the law suit was not be Asian-Americans but by a white lawyer who attacks affirmative action any chance he gets. Indeed that there is not a singe Asain-American who has signed on to this law suit. To quote Casey Stengel “You could look it up.”

  34. @Lenore Affirmative action is on its way out. Most Americans are against it & vote to ban it when given a chance. For example in 1996 California voters amended the state constitution, to prohibit state governmental institutions from considering race, sex, or ethnicity, in the areas of public employment, public contracting, & public education. Since the passage of Prop 209, minority students at California schools have posted higher graduation rates, African American graduation rates at Berkeley increased by 6.5%, & rose even more dramatically, from 26% to 52%, at UC San Diego. Prop 209 restored & reconfirmed the historic intention of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The basic and simple premise of Prop 209 is that every individual has a right, & that right is not to be discriminated against, or granted a preference, based on their race or gender. Since the number of available positions are limited, discriminating against or giving unearned preference to a person based solely, or even partially on race or gender deprives qualified applicants of all races an equal opportunity to succeed. It also pits one group against another & perpetuates social tension. Prop 209 has been the subject of many lawsuits but has withstood legal scrutiny. In 2006, a similar amendment was passed in Michigan. In 2014 SCOTUS ruled 6-2 that the Michigan Initiative was constitutional. This public policy is no longer defensible. Harvard's policy is no longer defensible. They will lose this case.

  35. I can't think of anything more fair than applicants concealing their race on college applications and noting their parents' income.

    Diversity is a noble goal, but not at the expense of shortchanging working class or poor children who just happen to be white or Asian.

    I can only think of my high school experience, when the poor white kids did not receive the benefit of affirmative action, whereas middle class African-Americans, some of whom were bi-racial, with college educated parents, did. How is this even remotely fair? How does this foster inclusion rather than exacerbate resentment?

  36. @Mark noting income is anything but fair!!!! Rich students who pay full tuition are much more desirable than those who need financial aid.

  37. @Mark here's an alternative -- rip capital from the soft, undeserving hands of this nations' top 5% and use it create a system that grants all folks access to a high quality education. Affirmative action --a small consideration in light of this nations brutal racism -- is not short changing working class people. Mega corporations, the uber-wealty, and corrupt politicians are the ones bleeding this country dry.

  38. @Mark I agree with your remark, except that you suggest a middle class black kid has the same opportunities as a similar white kid- the data makes it clear that this is an utterly false assumption. Black children are much more likely to fall down the economic ladder from where they are born than whites.

    Racism is a complicated issue and simple, logical arguments are sometimes simplistic- do not ignore the data or the problem can't be solved.

    However, I agree that it would be better to simply focus on poverty as admission policies for the reason you specify, the resentments created, even if the resentments are based on ignorance of the causes and affects of racism.

    The policies chosen to lift up blacks tend to be ones that cost the least in taxes for political reasons. Solutions such as making sure all children receive an early education of similar quality are very expensive.

    Slaves did build this country- cotton and tobacco brought the capital required. The economic conditions of blacks in America today is a direct result of its legacy and this is a very inconvenient truth for white privilege.

  39. This is a reductio ad absurdum argument. If Harvard loses its lawsuit, it would not be barred from asking about race, and certainly applicants would not be barred from talking about it. It would just have to face the fact that as an institution it has a bias against Asian students and take measures to address that bias. In the 1980s, Stanford found that it had biases in the admission process against Asian applicants. When it took steps to correct these biases, the admission rate of Asians went from about 11% to the high teens the next year.

  40. The college admissions process is out of control. A return to grades and test scores should be a relief for everyone. Make a lottery for everyone who crosses a certain threshold, with some income-based affirmative action, and call it a day.

    Of course admissions officers would never want to give up their precious power and delusions that they're hand picking the leaders of tomorrow.

  41. @Sarah No, a "return to grades and test scores" would ensure colleges are filled with nothing but dominant culture students. And, given there is no actual evidence supporting the predictive value of either grades or test scores, it would just be a way of ensuring that people of color remain "in their place."

  42. @Sarah

    I wonder if there are any Harvard admissions officers who are not Harvard graduates? How could any non-Harvard graduate be worthy of such a position?

    Are there any Harvard Asian-American admissions officers?

    Professor Boddie states, "This case could have a devastating effect. Consider a black student who grew up on the South Side of Chicago or a Hmong applicant who lives in a working-class neighborhood in Minneapolis."

    Do I correctly understand that the Hmongs (of Cambodian ancestry) are ASIAN?

  43. @Sarah
    Love this comment. So spot on, especially the second paragraph.

  44. "The proportion of Asian-American students in Harvard’s admitted classes has grown by 27 percent since 2010, and they make up nearly a quarter of the admitted class of 2022..."


  45. And......based upon merit perhaps they should be 50% of the admitted class of 2022.

  46. The logic is bizarre: people from this racial group are doing very well academically. Better exclude some of them.

  47. Elections have consequences.

    Like our newest Supreme.

    Vote as if your life depends on it.

    Because it might.

  48. It is an opinion article but it could do with a bit more unbaised coverage of the other side.

  49. A few minutes of research on Edward Blum reveals that he operates via a group called "Project on Fair Representation," which is supported by an organization called "DonorsTrust" which is described as part of a "murky money maze" that helps very wealthy people and corporations remain hidden when "funding sensitive or controversial issues."

    And guess who turns out to be funding DonorsTrust? That's right, Charles Koch through his "Knowledge and Progress Fund."

    I don't know what the right-wing angle is here, but you can be sure it's not about improving our education system.

  50. @Pat I think you hit the nail on the head here. I think this is just more of the right-wing agenda to hammer away at affirmative action as applied to, specifically, African-American kids who have grown up under difficult circumstances. They don't want black kids from disadvantaged schools given a fighting chance to make their way into the moneyed classes. I don't believe they care about Asian kids at all.

  51. @Pat: politics should not be articles of faith.

  52. @Pat The fact that some of the people supporting this have questionable agendas does not mean the idea is wrong. Clearly, one minority is being penalized to benefit others. How is that ok? I would like to see Harvard compelled at least to make its admissions process transparent.

  53. Interesting article. Why, though, do you keep mentioning white applicants: "It turns the experiences of people of color into tokens and entrenches whiteness as the default."? What do white applicants have to do with a lawsuit brought about by Asians? Are Asians no longer POC, but are now white people? Just trying to follow the NYT's current usage of racial identity.

  54. "modest" = 43% > 19%, according to Harvard's own internal report.

  55. Ok, lets say we agree that race can be considered.
    So, we can consider the actual true fact (the NYTimes loves facts, of course, unless they are this one) that white and Asian people simply are more successful, for a given education level.

    So ... white and Asian applicatants will be given a boost in ranking for that reason.

    I doubt if the NYTimes will like that. What they want is clear:
    admit more people who historically vote the way they (the NYTimes) want people to vote: left wing.

    " Research shows that white people who try to be colorblind often seem more prejudiced and unfriendly to people of color. " Whose research? I'd bet money that they vote Democrat.

  56. Finally a level playing field. People should be determined based on merit and not whether they belong to a “special minority”.

  57. @Shirley Chen

    College is not a "playing field."

    I think anyone who using sports analogies in her supplication/application should be rejected.

    And who's to decide what "merit" means? Surely those high school athletes who are urged to apply already "belong to a 'special minority'."

  58. A thousand times yes! The law of unintended consequences would hamper applicants and admissions officers alike.

    Harvard, and other highly selective colleges, already have "go-to" high schools from which they accept a large number of students each year. My own public high school is one of those, and a significant proportion (not quite half) of the students from my high school that go to Harvard are POC's. Almost none are Asians. (About 15 students get accepted each year).

    I don't think that Mr. Blum or his plaintiffs would like it that applicants from my high school would have an even greater chance of getting into Harvard given the large number of highly qualified POC's who apply.

  59. What's neglected in this article is that Harvard is alleged to have used race to discriminate against Asian candidates, using damaging stereotypes on "softer" measures such as personality traits. I am actually a supporter of Affirmative Action but Harvard possibly went to an extreme level to ensure certain minorities were accepted and others were not.

  60. The numbers are rather stark ... it's hard to see how the number of Asian applicants falls to the level it does ..... let's face it .... impossible.

    The problem -- there is no true transparency in the process ... and no one is really being honest about "culture". It's not race .... Not all asians or great students .. but some asian cultures drive towards excellence. They win ... and should.

    The schools don't want to publish how well various groups do after being admitted .. graduation rates. We know why.

    Transparency and honesty -- that's what's needed. I have been hearing the same points for 40 years and the results keep falling

  61. Be careful of profiling.

  62. No one forced Harvard to use race as a primary consideration in their admissions process. (by some accounts, Black students have an advantage over Asians equivalent to 450 points on the SAT. To put that in context, SUNY Stony Brook undergrads have SAT scores that are about 450 points beneath those of Harvard.)

    Harvard chose to do this. And rather than help students who grew up on the South Side of Chicago, more than two thirds of Harvard's African American admits come from wealthy and/or international backgrounds. In fact, Harvard has a preference for applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds for all races EXCEPT for African Americans.

    Although Harvard might theoretically have put racial information to good use, they have now been caught perpetrating a massive program of racial discrimination for the second time in a century. Enough is enough.

  63. @Jason

    I wonder if any applicant has declined an acceptance letter from Harvard, and if Harvard has been offended as a result.

  64. @Jason Harvard does not use race as a primary consideration. It is one consideration of many. It is, no doubt, a flawed process as are those of many other schools. The author's point is that matters of race, especially for minorities, often has a formative impact on their lives. Not allowing them to reveal/discuss that prevents the admissions committee from learning about the "whole person". Applicants are asked to write essays, provide info about their interests and extra-curricular activities and family circumstances so that admissions officers have a way of distinguishing among candidates with equally strong academic credentials. When faced with 2 applicants with identical GPAs and SATs, how are they to decide which one to admit? A toss of the coin? First come, first admitted?

  65. @Jason, I hope those Harvard students with average SAT scores 450 points higher than those of SUNY Stony Brook students aren’t planning to major in Math or Statistics, because that means the Harvard kids are scoring more than 150 points above the maximum possible.

  66. It doesn't matter if your clothing preferences go to white sheets with eye holes or tweed jackets with elbow patches: If you judge people based even in part on the color of their skin, you're a racist.

  67. Affirmative action doesn't judge people based on their race. It makes sure those to whom it applies based on protected class get into the room so that then they can be judged on their merits.

    If one can't get in the room, one's qualifications don't matter because no one will see them.

  68. Why not build more Ivy League caliber schools ?

    There are more then enough smart kids to fill them immediately.

  69. @Norville T. Johnson I

    Seriously? You do not understand it is not the caliber of the school, or even the students. It's the rarity!

  70. @Norville T. Johnson I

    I agree that there are more than enough smart kids out there who can all do the work.

    It is a myth, however, that the Ivy League schools and their students are better than the other leading schools and their students. In fact, we can reasonably argue that the schools that don't discriminate against Asian-Americans have student bodies that are of a higher caliber than those like Harvard which do. How could that not be the case? They are simply selecting the better students, all other things the same. That set of schools would include Berkeley, University of Washington, and Cal Tech.

    See, for instance, the recent nomination hearings for Supreme Court justice. The histrionic and manifestly unfit Mr. Kavanaugh was a rich white legacy student. According to Harvard's own internal study, legacy students are admitted there at a rates that is 5 times higher than non-legacies. Another example would be the rich white Mr. Kushner. The teachers at his own high school have publicly said that he should not have been admitted to Harvard. His was admitted almost certainly because his father gave Harvard several million dollars and promised many millions more.

    "Norville T. Johnson I" wrote:
    "Why not build more Ivy League caliber schools ?
    There are more then enough smart kids to fill them immediately."

  71. @Norville T. Johnson I
    The reality is there are plenty of schools that are at least on par with the Ivy League in terms of quality of education, but they are not getting the attention because in certain careers such as politics, law, academia, journalism, investment banking and management consulting, it is still all about where you went to school.

    But there are plenty of millionaires and billionaires in tech who went to non-Ivy schools, from state flagships to regional state colleges, some never even went to college. Perhaps Asians just need to get off their obsession with Harvard. If Asians with high test scores stop applying to the Ivies, their average test scores, average starting salary of graduates and prestige would plummet compared to where Asians flock to, like the state flagships that turn out some of the country's best talents in STEM, medicine and business.

  72. "Imagine this scenario: An admissions officer sits down to read a stack of applications, but they’re heavily redacted because the college must censor all references to an applicant’s race."

    I can easily imagine that, and it seems completely reasonable. Many states mandate this by law.

    I haven't heard anyone claim that you won't be able to put leadership roles on a college application. What you won't be able to do is favor one applicant with a Hispanic leader role over another applicant with an Asian leadership role based solely on their race. It's not hard to understand.

    They also don't claim that a college should focus ONLY on grades, just not focus on race. This is also misleading.

    Self identified anti-racists defending blatant racism against Asians with logic that doesn't make sense to a kindergartner is a site to behold. Perhaps they should lookup the meaning of cognitive dissonance.

    Good luck with this argument in court, you are going to need it.

  73. I believe Asian Americans are already "censoring" their own applications, per this story (and others like it.)


    Ms; Boddie would have more credibility if she advocated for affirmative action based on economic status, rather than race.

    For example, presumably Ms. Boddie is very well compensated as a HLS-degreed law professor and affirmative action consultant.

    Would she advocate for her own children to receive a race-based preference, despite their privileged background?

    This is, I think, one of the core issues pitting races against each other in the affirmative action debate.

  74. As Bull Halsey once told me, "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others."

  75. @phil queeg
    I believe it was George Orwell that said that.

  76. Guess what, many Asians are already concealing their ethnic background on college applications so as to avoid the rampant discrimination imposed by Harvard and other institutions during the admissions process. So it would indeed be best to have all admissions "color-blind".

  77. Adalberto: If Asian Americans are 6% of the US population and nearly a quarter of the admitted class of 2022 (and the proportion of Asian Americans in admitted classes has increased by 27% since 2010), how much has that ethnic group suffered from rampant discrimination there?

  78. @Adalberto

    Unfortunately what happens is everyone understands that no race indicated on an application is the same as Asian.

  79. There are smart people among all racial groups and no single screening tool is even substantially accurate. For me, extracurricular activities, whether scientific, civic or just plain helping others, should count significantly in determining who is accepted. That motivates young adults to get involved, see what interest them and experience the world outside of the classroom, the tutoring process and social interaction via LED display.

    Institutions like Harvard need to use their smarts to teach to the highly motivated and not just the highly groomed.

  80. @Emergence
    Would working nearly full time to help one's family financially (while still getting good grades in high school) count as an extracurricular activity?

  81. @S.B. I attended a Yale presentation last night and the Admissions Officer stated directly that working and family responsibilities definitely would.

  82. @Emergence - S.B. - It certainly would. Such persons are already demonstrating wisdom far beyond their peers. Such a person already has the motivations, now she needs and deserves the tools.

  83. Admissions at prestigious colleges amount to zero-sum games. Any advantage given to one group represents a corresponding disadvantage to another. What the author doesn't seem to notice are the data that seem to indicate certain groups of applicants are being disadvantaged - i.e., discriminated against - on a racial basis. Race-based affirmative action has a noble goal of trying to compensate for racial inequality of opportunity, but the notion that criteria for admissions will be preferentially lowered for one group (and thereby raised for others) is a problematic approach.

  84. Admissions policies and admissions practices by private, non-profit corporations, are Free Speech. The very concept of "composing" a class is Free Political Speech. If Citizens United vs. The FCC is not invoked here, it would be a shame on government for interpreting law and procedural code to limit the political speech of Harvard and institutions similar to it.

  85. @Chris Kox "Bob Jones University lost its tax exemption over whether the university's policies against interracial dating precluded it as a non-taxable religious educational institution." Just take away Harvard's tax status and deny all students attending any federal financial aid. Then I will agree with you.

  86. @Chris Kox - Trump is allowing Liberty University to exclude students based on religious and other grounds, but now get tax exemption and Federal benefits. So also long as Trump approves discrimination is quite allowed.

  87. @Chris Kox

    " . . . Citizens United vs. The FCC . . . ."

    I think it rather more accurate to say private corporate tyrannies vs. the FCC.

  88. I'm not sure the outcome is an all-or-nothing proposition: either all traces of an applicant's race is excluded from their application, or we retain that collection of boxes in the personal information section that allows an application to enter his or her race.

    But in any case, several claims are true in the existing system:

    1. Latino and black applicants are more likely to be admitted to top schools than are caucasians or Asians, for a given academic record.

    2. The credential gap exists, and according to some research, it continues past college and graduate school and into the workplace.

    3. There is significant value in creating a diverse student body.

    4. Too often, diversity is just a population of people who look different but think the same.

    I don't think affirmative action is wrong, it's just too little, too late. It's in part a feel-good policy used to create genetic and racial diversity, but too often without the attendant cultural and/or philosophic diversity.

    Instead, we ought to be choosing applicants for their diversity in life experiences, and cultural and philosophical upbringing. As part of this, we should recognize that an A student from Palo Alto may not be as accomplished as a B+ student from urban or rural poverty. And we need to start affirmative action for disadvantaged kids very early, in the form of support for both kids and their families.

    Anything less is cheats us all of fairness.

  89. @hammond
    Affirmative action has been shown to be harmful.
    To both those it causes schools to reject, and those it causes them to accept.

  90. @hammond
    I agree. The article claims that an applicant would need to strip their identity, but it is a false claim. All that is needed is to eliminate the "Race" box on the application.

    No issues if Harvard looks at parents income, zip code, marital status, etc. I live in Hartford CT, kids in the inner city are disadvantaged and should be given a bump in the admission process. But don't do it based on race.

  91. Race should not be a factor in admissions. I would love to see the day when race is no longer in the college app. Admit based on merit alone and provide tuition scholarships for those who cannot afford it.

  92. @Rational Ok. But then how do you define "merit alone"? What measurements are you aware of that claim to (much less actually do) measure "merit alone"?

  93. I can think of nothing better than leaving off any mention of race, religion, or ethnicity.

    Years ago, my mother's class at the High School of Music and Art made the brave decision to leave religion off their college applications to protest the Jewish quota. My father, meanwhile, who unlike my mother was Jewish, was reject by his first choice school because of the Jewish quota, something that caused him great pain.

    I'm with my mom on this. What Harvard did to Asian kids merely because they're members of a group that puts a high value on education -- systematically reducing their personality ratings -- is wrong.

    Kids should be admitted on the basis of merit, not the color their skin -- or any of the other wrongs, such as legacy status and athletic ability, that currently pollute the admissions process.

  94. @Josh Hill "I can think of nothing better than leaving off any mention of race, religion, or ethnicity." Really?!? To do so would strip away vital elements of a student's identity and experience.

  95. @Josh Hill
    Thank you for this post. Harvard’s current behavior is distressingly reminiscent of their anti-Semitic quotas of years past.

    It was wrong then and it is wrong now.

  96. It is easy to say that kids should be admitted based on merit not the color of their skin, but what will happen is that kids will NOT be admitted because of the color of their skin.

  97. It seems to me that many people who are opposed to Affirmative Action have no problem with colleges accepting "legacies" or the children of wealthy benefactors. Would Donald Trump really ever have gotten into the U. of Penn. or Jared Kushner to Harvard based on their own merit? Personally I believe that is doubtful.Granted universities need the money that loyal alums provide but is it really so counterproductive to deny others a leg up? SATS, merit and grades have never been the only consideration.

  98. @Margaret Fraser

    You are right on the mark Margaret. How are legacies not discriminatory. All Trump's kids got into Penn. Were any of them listed as graduating with honors on the programs of their high school graduation ceremonies. I think not. It is all about money.

  99. @Margaret Fraser Incorrect. However, what's not said about legacies is that someone who is the child of two Harvard or Yale parents is probably going to be better prepared for college than the child of two parents who only graduated high school and there hasn't been much research showing that legacies are some kind of automatic admit.

    However, legacies should not be granted additional "points" just because their kids went there. The same goes for wealthy benefactors and students of color. Everyone should be judged based on the merit of their own qualifications.

  100. @Margaret Fraser--I am against legacy admissions and pay-to-play admissions. That makes me even more skeptical of an admissions policy that clearly penalizes one minority group in the name of "diversity".

  101. It's not clear to me why any applicant needs to hold forth about their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status or any other identity badge. On the other hand if I was picking a class for Harvard I wouldn't want to have it comprised solely of well off white folks from NYC, Westchester County, Greenwich, and greater Boston. I still think the best way is to leave admission committees alone and let them do whatever they want, without any oversight, and have the market decide. The Trustees will want a class, circa 2018, that is first rate and reasonably representative of the country and the world.

  102. Schools like to know about applicants extracurricular accomplishments and challenges. Race and gender often are related to these things.

  103. Professor Boddie makes good points. I would add to what she says that a student's name may reveal their race or ethnicity, or perhaps religion.
    There are many names likely to identify a person as African-American. An applicant whose surname is Wong or Kim or Gupta is likely to be Asian; worse, they are likely to be thought to be Asian on an application, even though they may look, feel and believe themselves to be predominantly white, black or Hispanic. Should we, then, censor students' names?

    Names may mislead. I went to school with a young man named Cohen and another whose last name was Tobin. Mr. Cohen was an Episcopalian, as I recall, and Mr. Tobin (who had what we used to call a map-of-Ireland face) was Jewish. As they say in Brooklyn, go figure.

    The way to deal with discrimination is to think hard about it and to work hard at overcoming it. Simplistic approaches like color-blindness wind up, more often than not, making matters worse. Indeed, that often seems to be the point of them.

  104. @JJM, actually hiding identification of students, including name, in application process is done in many countries. It's a great way for admission officer to focus on the application itself.

  105. @GL

    And that is why students in those many countries are clamoring to leave home and attend American elite universities. It is why it is so easy in those countries to game the admissions system by outright cheating. It is why the privileged elite in those countries have better access to an elite university education (wealth and connections = knowing how to take the tests, and being able to pay for cramming). American universities' excellence comes out of the systems we have. Beware what you wish for.

  106. If you really want a race-neutral admissions policy you cannot consider race. This seems like a good idea that will bolster confidence in liberal institutions of higher learning. Why would anyone who accepts the basic principle of fairness oppose it?

  107. @John Jabo

    Fairness is in the eye of the beholder.

  108. @John Jabo Um, because "race-neutral" is, by definition, a fig-leaf for dominant culture preference?

  109. I have personally run into scenarios where I've seen highly qualified individuals in my life lose out to others who did not have the same credentials/test scores but filled a minority quota. I think this is a great thing. I get it that there is an historical need to adjust for certain populations not having access to the best institutions for higher learning, but I'm sick and tired of the band-aid of affirmative action keeping out otherwise top-candidates while the real problems lie in helping struggling communities obtain the resources they need to help their children succeed.

  110. @Zach Ulrich In order for someone to win, someone has to lose. The pie is only so big, you really can't grow the pie. If minorities and women are to get their piece of the pie, someone has to lose their slice. For now it is the white working class male, hence we have Donald Trump. However, the middle class white male will also start to fall, then we'll see how liberal the millenial white males really are.

  111. This is an inaccurate understanding of the lawsuit. If the plaintiffs win, Harvard will have to show over time that successful Asian American applicants do not have academic metrics that are significantly higher than that of whites, Latinos, and African Americans. The crux of the case is that for decades now, Asian American students who matriculate at Harvard have much higher standardized test scores and GPAs than other groups. This is a well-known and established fact that has been documented most famously by Princeton sociologist Thomas J. Espenshade. Rather than the ominous and foreboding imagery of Harvard admissions officers reading redacted applications as the author suggests, the likely outcome is much more mundane statistical reporting of Harvard admissions office who will have to show that admitted Asian Americans are statistically similar to other students and that Asian American applicants do not have to pay a statistical penalty. If Harvard and other elite private universities follow the Caltech model of race-neutral admissions, we can infer that approximately 40 percent of the admitted class will be Asian Americans given the well-known and publicized metrics of elite university applicant pools. The real question is whether these institutions feel 40 percent Asian American at places like Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford is simply too many for their institutional identity.

  112. @UC Graduate Um, if the crux of the case relies on standardized test scores and GPAs then how would that not, ultimately, reduce college admissions to the "ominous and foreboding imagery" the article presents? If college admissions are to be reduced to these (rather suspect) statistics, the conclusions are unavoidable: higher education would then be reserved for the dominant culture ideal of "those just like me," or those of the "model minority" (but only those of that minority who fit the dominant culture ideal) who can game the statistical system. The reality is that, for decades, these statistics have been simple shortcuts that make it easy for admissions offices to pick a class that fits their dominant culture ideals. The reality is also that neither of these "metrics" has any empirical support for claims they can predict the success of any individual in the higher education environment. If this lawsuit proves anything, it should be that ALL admissions offices need to abandon the use of GPAs and standardized test scores as admissions criteria.

  113. @UC Graduate. Arguably, Board scores and GPA are a far better indicator of success in the Sciences than in other professions like Business, The Arts, Politics, Journalism, etc.

    It bothers me less that a school like Cal Tech would be so hung up on these numerical metrics, but schools that cater to a wider range of professions might need more latitude to determine who are most worthy of admission.

  114. @UC Graduate

    "The real question is whether these institutions feel 40 percent Asian American at places like Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford is simply too many for their institutional identity."

    I'd like to see in writing where these elite institutions specifically define their "institutional identity."

  115. Related questions are whether admissions officers should be made aware of applicants' gender? Or home state/country? or high school name? All of these factors also give clues to personal qualities of applicants.
    If one imagines how such an admissions process could work -- perhaps with randomly generated numbers for all university applicants rather than names, no "personal" essays, no lists of activities or sports or summer jobs (since any of these might reveal race/gender/nationality/etc), with admissions decisions based solely on grades, class rank and standardized tests -- the admissions process could be automated. No human judgement would be required to discern "potential" rather than "achievement".
    Would such a process be more "fair" than what we have today?
    Or would it result in suboptimal demographics for individual university classes?

  116. @LD But limiting admissions decisions to grades, class rank, or standardized tests would simply ensure the entering class of any university would be overwhelmingly (if not exclusively) white and higher income. None of these measures has any empirical support as being an accurate evaluation of achievement much less of being predictive of college performance.

  117. Actually the point of the Harvard data studies is that grades and test scores would result in more than 50% Asian American admits, not White. That is why the Republican funder/activist has initiated this lawsuit against Harvard.

  118. I don't envy the job of admissions officers at Harvard, or many other top-tier schools. Per Harvard numbers, "Admissions" must screen well over 40,000 apps for about 2,000 offer letters, and eventually deliver a "yield" of about 1,700 freshmen. At the recent reject-rate of 95%, the admissions committee disappoints many a fine candidate.
    There's one group, though, that's easily and statistically the "most underrepresented" of all undergrad students at a place like Harvard... and that's US military veterans. Of those 1,700 or so freshmen who walk through the gate every year, only a small handful ever wore the true fiber of any uniform of any US military service. Indeed, Harvard admits quite a few more "Native Americans" (about 2% of recent admittees) than prior/serving/reservist US military.
    Admission committees at elite schools clearly go through all manner of contortion to fill their annual classes with some semblance of "diversity." We're about to learn much more about that via the Asian applicants' lawsuit against Harvard. But the fact is that Harvard has no truly effective outreach towards smart young people who took time after high school to serve the country. It's quite a shame...

  119. Basing admission on only HS grades and the SAT/ACT will instantly block many poor and minority applicants. That’s the goal of this lawsuit.

    It’s well known that the only stat that correlates with high SAT scores is parent income, one of the reasons both the College Board and Harvard dropped the essay as a requirement.

    And trying to navigate the differences between and A in one high school and an A in another is impossible. Admissions depts know the high schools that send them students. A number of private schools’ reputations hinge on their ability to send 10% of each class to Harvard.

    But high scores aren’t just what colleges want. They want a diverse environment. They want to take a risk on an interesting kid who brings more than just 1600, all As, and parent funded service trips. Mostly, they want to hear from the applicant directly and honestly, to learn what drives that person. To stifle an applicant’s ability to express him/herself and make admission about only grades and test scores ensures that the wealthy will dominate at places like Harvard.

  120. @M

    I recommended your comment, though I'll quibble with your assertion that any private school sends 10% of its seniors to Harvard. I am very familiar with matriculation rates at private schools in New England, and none of them are anywhere near 10%. In 2018 Andover sent 11 out of a class of 275 students, and they're one of the very top senders.

  121. @M

    This suit was brought by Asians; do they not count as "people of color" and "minorities" in the leftist identity Olympics? And, in NYC, many of the Asians the leftist mayor wants to kick out of high performing schools because he thinks there are too many of them, qualify as "poor" by anyone's definition.

    Too, consider the implication that a "diverse" student -- we all know what THAT means when a leftist uses the word -- is "interesting", but an Asian student (who loses the admission spot) is not. if that's not racist, what is?

    When skin color can't be used to discriminate, admissions will be based on MERIT, which might include talents other than those reflected in grades and test scores. But skin color is not a talent and does not make one "interesting". Nor does admitting lots of children of successful professionals who happen to have Politically Correct skin constitute "diversity". Indeed, if one wants "diversity" on campus, outreach to Republicans would be high on the list of goals.

  122. Is it wishful thinking to pick the "best" from such a well-qualified pool? What is the best this year? Dance or service in Honduras? And next year?

    One approach would rely only on scores and grades, as called for by plaintiffs for fairness, but not by an automatic ranking, but rather to create one or two or more pools from which applicants would be selected at random.

    I grant that it leaves out the personal, but my personal is not yours. Since there is at least one good school besides Harvard (on the Supreme Court only one), applications to several schools,extra points for applications to particular programs and other measures might limit the deleterious effects of a race-blind but "fair" selection.

  123. It is disappointing to see so many people in the comments section praising judgement based on test scores and grades alone as a "return to merit." Even ignoring the fact that there are more qualified applicants in this regard than spots avaliable (something that Boddie points out in the article), we also know that tests like the SAT are inherently biased and advantage students who have greater economic and cultural capital. If anything, the application process should become more holistic - that is what would truly separate the wheat from the chafe.

  124. @MaxThe SAT's are not inherently biased except for knowledge and thinking skills. Do you want questions about surfing and bamboo utensils included?

  125. A true return to merit would be when the universities cease all legacy, donor, faculty kid admissions. Till then this is the right making sure their legacy and donor statuses are protected and sticking it to minority kids and first gen kids. All of you who carry on about merit alone are feuding yourselves if you think the right would find this if it hurt their children in ANY way.

  126. @Ifonly Too right. Without legacy admissions our country would not have been saddled with the likes of Bush the younger, our current pathetic excuse for a president, or the most recently appointed associate justice of the Supreme Court.

  127. The definition of affirmative action has never been adequately established. Historically it meant equal employment regardless of race or color. The thinking was that blacks were discriminated against by the way “the system “ in the past and going forward there was the need to make things right but no specifics on how to do this.

    Where the legislature failed, the courts stepped in and defined the term. The Allen Bakke Supreme Court case struck down quota based admissions at UC Davis. The court majority at that time also found the Harvard admiions process was not quota based and that their application process considered race as only one of many admissions criteria.

  128. Other countries have a far fairer method of applying to their top tier schools. Absolute numeric cutoffs for certain objective tests for different majors and if oversubscribed then a lottery.
    It's university, and should be treated as such. Fair and open to all.

  129. Your point explains a lot. But it doesn't change the merits of the argument. If Brown were White, should she have lost Brown (White?) v Board of Education?

  130. To those who think that grades and test scores are enough to choose a class:
    1. Think about the implicit bias inherent in testing. Those with money can afford to hire test tutors. Any system like that will privilege the wealthy at the expense of everyone else.
    2. Do you really think that admissions officers only look at race and don't consider socio-economic status? Most colleges strive to admit first generation students regardless of their ethnicity. And admissions officers are sensitive to those students who had to hold down a part-time job throughout high school, preventing them from padding their resumes with extracurricular activities. In fact, many of the CommonApp essays encourage applicants to talk about jobs.
    3. If you were a top notch students, would you really want to go to a college that was filled with students exactly from your background. Its the diversity that makes a college. Diversity of majors. Diversity of extracurriculars. Diversity of gender. And diversity of ethnicity.
    4. There are plenty of "Ivy League caliber" schools. The honors programs in most state Universities offer superior education, access to first class researchers, small diverse classes.
    5. Finally, think about who is pushing this lawsuit. It has nothing to do with Asian American students. It's all about a single man with a bone to pick about affirmative action. Not a single Asian American student is part of his lawsuit. Ironic isn't it?

  131. @HN
    Not true.
    Blum is pushing the case but he is representing Asians students not himself.
    Also not true is that those test tutors are only affordable to the rich.
    Stanley Kaplan's college prep for the sat is 600.00 dollars.
    Who can't afford that.

  132. “Students for Fair Admissions includes more than a dozen Asian-American students who applied to Harvard and were rejected.” NY Times

  133. @HN
    Do you really want the truth.
    First you contradict yourself.
    You say the rich can get into schools like Harvard because the can afford college test tutors.
    This only is relevant if getting into a college like Harvard
    is better than going someplace else where it is easier to get in.
    You then state the education you get at Harvard is not better than the education you can get at a state school.
    If this is so then the people who are rich and go to Harvard have no advantage over those who are not rich and go to state schools.
    The reason it is that the children of rich parents do better than poor people when they become older isn't because they went to a better college.
    There are other reasons.
    You have to think outside of the box.
    You don't need 4 years of college to do most jobs.
    Maybe 2 is enough.
    You don't need most of the other things they teach like math or history.
    If college can be reduced to two years than there would be enough money to do all the things you want.
    You wouldn't need to get that job to pay for your education
    If you use that time to learn and not to go to parties then you will be able to concentrate on the class you are taking.
    If you need further education because your major requires a graduate degree you can be admitted into a graduate program two years earlier and concentrate on the courses you need to take to get that degree.

  134. Couldn't admissions just use add economic hardship as one of their criteria? That seems to address the heart of the problem -- advancing people who do not have access to power.

  135. There are crazy rich families in every ethnic group, likewise crazy poor families in every ethnic group.

  136. Unfortunately Asians are the most impoverished ethic u group in the US. And there are a surplus of poor whites. And blacks of course. Generally they have lower SAT scores. Your suggestion would do nothing that I think you want.

  137. Educational inequality is one of the reason, racial and social diversity is the other part. Until college, my interactions with African-Americans was minimal. Before high school it was effectively limited to one person, much less Asians, middle-eastern and Latinos. A well diversified student body really does help the college experience. Without it, the experience would have been much less fulfilling, as will as filling. All the way down to music and food. I likely never would have had sushi, much less vindaloo. Never discount experiencing different cultures, or sub-cultures. Diversity of experience, culture, life, make you a better person.

  138. I am not convinced that race matters as much as individual experience. Universities seeking diversity, should first and foremost consider academics and ability. Race does matter, so after passing a test designed by each individual college of that university, then submit each applicant to an oral interview whereby he/she/they can explain to a panel of professors what contributions their life experience including race can make to that program and to that student's future chosen field of study and work. I have been helping seniors at my high school revise and edit common essays for their college applications. Many are enamored by their differences and believe they are special based solely on a race or a gender or even illness. Very few can explain either verbally or in writing how the experiences derived from their differences can benefit other students, their chosen program, or their future field of study. I wonder why that is the case, even among the brightest students applying to elite universities like Harvard.

  139. I'll be ready to have this conversation when colleges are ready to stop preferentially accepting legacies and children of donors. Until then, I don't think we can have a meaningful discussion about how fair it is to let some people in over others who appear, on paper, to be better prepared to succeed at a school.

  140. Yes! The chief rationale for giving preference to legacy admits is to keep the Alum donations flowing in. That is definitely not merit.

  141. I think the essay grossly misrepresents the plaintiffs' position. I don't believe the plaintiffs are asking the admissions office to ignore the formative effect of race on who the applicant is, but rather thru should not their subconscious bias against a certain race to discriminate against a racial group to achieve what the university may believe to be the best racial balance for its students. in that respect, comparing the percentage of Asian Americans against the general US population is to me meaningless. The more meaningful comparison is the percentage of Asian Americans in the applicant pool. How big of a difference is that, how has that gap changed since the filing of the suit, and was the lawsuit a factor in that changing gap? None of this is discussed. I would agree, however, many in the US have subconscious bias against a certain race or group of people. The solution is to acknowledge this subconscious bias and do something to address it, rather than legitimizing that bias under the guise of affirmative action and in the process punishing the one group of people that have weakest political voice. BTW, whatever the motivation that precipitated this suit, it uncovered the unfairness in Harvard's admission process. Acknowledge it, correct it, and don't ignore it just because you question the true motive of the person who financed the suit.

  142. At some point, colleges will simply have to establish a reasonable minimum standard for applicants, and then choose randomly from among those who qualify. It will become vastly more difficult to game the system by making sure that your kid has endless tutoring and all the right after-school activities; a laid-back kid who gets good grades and good test scores will have the same chances as a kid who has been Tiger Mom'd for 17 years.

    The racial/ethnic makeup of college classes will be closer to that of the general population and high school kids will be relieved of much unnecessary pressure. People who have been throwing resources at their kid to get them into The. Best. School! will be upset, but smart kids with 2 overworked, underpaid parents will have a better chance to go to a good university.

    Would it be fair? Not totally, but in a situation where everyone is trying to game the system a randomized process is the fairest.

  143. @S. B.
    So instead of rewarding excellence we should reward mediocrity .
    Harvard stand for the best of the best.
    If you want mediocrity go to a state school.

  144. We can go ack to a simple truism of life, “Life is not fair”. It may not be fair, that doesn’t mean it is not right.

  145. As a Harvard grad with A.B. and A.M degrees, I think the university could adopt a system like the University of Texas has whereby an applicant's zip code and family income level are considered as part of the admissions process.

  146. Isn't that the ultimate goal, admissions based solely on merit? Of course the outside obstacles are far from fair. Still, race based seems wrong as does gender based emissions. How about age discrimination? Must all Harvard entrants be hormonal teenagers?

    Maybe more focus on diversity of personality, of volunteer efforts or hobbies that taught critical thinking, summer jobs, even number of siblings which teaches interaction. If outside activities stepped up and academic achievement was secondary - after all, grades are subjective - maybe there would be actual diversity based on merit.

    Affirmative action came to mean letting in unqualified students, which helps no one. But letting in those that started in kindergarten to check all the right boxes might be worse.

  147. So many of those contributing comments are operating on the assumption that there are applicants who are "better" prepared for an Ivy League education who are getting rejected. But trying to make rationale distinctions among the outrageously highly accomplished students who apply to elite schools is foolish. This isn't the Olympics, but we are treating it as if it were, as if the best can win. We need to reset out thinking about this whole game of admissions and stop viewing it as a game. It isn't fair. It is and always will be a flawed process, like falling in love, getting a job, publishing a novel. There are a mess 'o considerations and we need to grow up and accept that reality and move on....

  148. Does a college have the right to choose it's class?

    The argument that standardized tests and grades be the determinant for admissions would be a heck of a boost for the college prep and testing industry, but would not necessarily make for much of a college class.

    If we are to argue that test scores are more important than race or ethnicity, or any other criteria for admissions, I'd just recommend that the colleges take all the applicants who meet the basic requirements, and toss darts at the pile. The class would be random, and everyone would have an equal opportunity to object to the kids who actually got in.

  149. @Cathy
    Not so long ago this country nearly tore itself apart over laws prohibiting racial discrimination.

    Harvard is in trouble because they are doing exactly that: discriminating based on race. In all other respects they remain free to pick their entering class.

    Do you really believe that we should repeal the laws that prohibit discrimination based on race?

  150. We can view the results of a "merit based" system at the California state university system. What are the consequences and current demographics of Berkley or UCLA?

  151. @Tim - more than 40% of admitted students at Berkeley and UCLA are Asian American.

  152. Berkeley - 40% Asian
    UCLA - 42% Asian
    Caltech - 43% Asian
    U.C. San Diego - 50% Asian

  153. @Tim, While there has been a decrease in African American and Latino enrollment at the two flagship schools you mention above, the graduation rates of underrepresented minorities at those same schools have risen significantly. For instance, African Americans graduations rates have increased 6.5% post Prop 209. Moreover, minority enrollment at the remaining UC schools has increased, and more importantly, 4 and 6-year graduation rates have increased for URM. Latino graduation rates at UC San Diego have doubled. Is there a causal link to Prop 209? Hard to say. On a personal level, I care far less about how many URM students are in admitted to an entering college class and more about how many walk out with a diploma 4-6 years later. The former is window dressing; the latter, real progress.

  154. I am curious how the Hallowed Ivies deal with the applicant interviews, often mandatory. How will they deal or not deal with the slip-ups, be they Freudian, Trumpian, or (interviewers being human being and all that), human slip-up, tip offs when reporting back.

  155. They would have to redact names (which could reveal an applicant’s ethnic background) and discontinue interviews.

  156. The outcome of the Harvard lawsuit will have implications for all US colleges and universities. At nearby MIT, where my daughter attended, and where there are many Asian students, during the Parents' Day event for freshman students, a talk by the MIT president emphasized the importance of a balanced admission policy. One of his points was that based on grades and test scores, virtually all the students at MIT would be Asian. He said that anyone in the entering class that is not Asian should be grateful for their affirmative admission policies.

    I have no animus towards Asians, nor against wealthy whites, but the value of a varied and diverse student body at our premier universities, both for our society and for the students, seems obvious. I hope we will let those institutions continue to pursue rich diversity in it's student bodies. I fear what will happen if this case lands in our uber-conservative Supreme Court.

  157. @Mosttoothless

    Harvard excluded Asians based on personality traits, lack of leadership and charm.A racist biased school.First it was the Irish, then the Jews and now the Asians.

  158. Maybe if such a large amount of students get completely perfect scores, they should make the test a little harder.

  159. @KTT. A large number of ppl are NOT achieving these perfect scores. Fewer than 1% of the test takers in the country (and international test takers) achieve them.

  160. If the SAT tests were made significantly harder, Harvard and MITs student body would be easily be over 50% Asian.

  161. @KTT
    Actually, this is an oft-repeated fallacy. The number of students who get a perfect 1600 on the SAT is relatively small - fewer than one thousand out of over 1.7 million test takers per year. Yet people still like to talk about how "Harvard could fill several classes with perfect SATs". It's simply not true.

  162. "Colorblindness, therefore, forces race underground. It turns people of color into tokens and entrenches whiteness as the default."

    "Silencing discussions about race silences people whose lives have been shaped by race."

    If I understand the argument, you are claiming that by outlawing affirmative action in higher education racial identity will be forced "underground" and discussions about race will be "silenced"?

    I'm not exactly convinced. In the absence of affirmative action, we can still discuss race and racism in society -- but institutions won't be allowed to discriminate based on race.

    I think we can stick to the main tension: the fundamental right of an individual to be treated the same as anyone else regardless of her race vs. a policy interest in promoting a racially diverse study body to foster a better learning environment.

    Sticking to the Constitutional issues, when a fundamental right is infringed because the policy goal serves a compelling interest, to pass Constitutional muster the policy needs to be the least restrictive means for achieving that interest.

    Is affirmative action the least restrictive means of ensuring that college students are exposed to different points of view, or are confronted with evidence challenging their stereotypes, or are encouraged to fraternize with people from different backgrounds?

    Of course not--all these goals could be achieved in a myriad of ways that don't involve race-based admissions criteria.

  163. This argument about race and college admissions illustrates the oversized influence ivy league schools have on widely held perceptions that admission vastly improves their chance of future career success. If admission bias cannot be eliminated because schools decline to blind admissions policies, then all applicants who would otherwise apply to Harvard, apply instead to State Schools such as University of Michigan, Virginia, Florida,Berkley, etc and then succeed in life based on your own efforts, without the imprimatur of an ivy to claim some of the credit that you deserve.

  164. Legacy admissions (GW Bush) and large parental donations (Jared Kushner) are the ultimate anti merit admissions. A potential student is more than his scores on tests which for the wealthy are padded by all kinds of tutors and test prep. Having varied students with different backgrounds benefit all.
    A pure lottery with all students who meet a minimum standard would be fair. Then encourage all kids who meet the standard to apply. Then insist that schools with massive endowments provide scholarships to students based on parental income.

  165. How can this group of students demand that US colleges must look only at test scores and grades? Those are NOT the only valid factors from an application to take into account. What it a school does not want just the top test scores? What if they want a diverse student body? Asian-American students should not be able to demand that only top test scorers get in.

  166. @Jennifer That is not what they are demanding. The Asian American applicants who brought this case were top admissions candidates on not only test scores and grades but also extracurricular activities and leadership roles. In order to lower their admission scores, Harvard assigned them low "personality" scores based ONLY on their race - not on an evaluation of their individual personalities.

  167. @Jennifer

    Asian-American student plaintiffs have NEVER made the argument that college should focus only on grades and standardized test scores. This is a strawman made by the author.

  168. @Jennifer

    Jennifer, this is based on an "all other things the same" comparison. It has nothing to do with test scores, grades or diversity. If we compare two students who are completely the same other than race, then the Asian-American applicant must score 140 points higher than the white applicant in order to have the same odds of acceptance. In other words, the white applicant will have an acceptance rate that is between two and six times higher. Statistically, given those disparities, if these equivalent students were to apply to the same ten leading schools, it is not unlikely that the white applicant would be accepted at most of them whereas the Asian-American applicant would be accepted at none. If you were an Asian-American parent, how would you explain that to your children?

    Jennifer writes:
    "How can this group of students demand that US colleges must look only at test scores and grades? Those are NOT the only valid factors from an application to take into account. What it a school does not want just the top test scores? What if they want a diverse student body? Asian-American students should not be able to demand that only top test scorers get in."

  169. Universities should encourage diversity of opinion instead of focusing on artificial categories like race.

    Without regard to skin color, gender, race, and sexual orientation, we need more diverse opinions at universities.

    That should be the only focus of diversity.

    It is boring when everyone thinks the identical thing as at universities where faculty are overwhelmingly relatively left of center.

  170. Set a cut off score score on the tests that would assure the students above were "qualified" and then randomly select from all qualified students. The admissions people are all too eager to tell you that many of those not admitted are "qualified" and how difficult it is to decide among the "qualified" applicants. Get rid of 99% of the admissions office and save a bunch of money.

    Donor's children and legacies would have an equal chance as long as they met the cut off point.

    The athletic teams would suffer, but if all the ivies implemented similar policies they would be competitive with each other.

  171. This attack on affirmative action has been around for decades. It makes no more sense now than when it was made by a white medical school applicant in the 1970s. I believe he won his case in the Supreme Court. Affirmative action has a very uneven history in the Supreme Court. But I have yet to see how the use of affirmative action by universities has caused any societal problem. Even Trump's DOJ should support Harvard. After all he believes he has managed to make America greater than it has ever been and we still have affirmative action.

  172. @James Ricciardi
    "But I have yet to see how the use of affirmative action by universities has caused any societal problem."
    "But I have yet to see how the use of Jim Crow by Southern states has caused any societal problem."
    What's the difference?

  173. “Others who oppose considerations of race in admissions claim that discussions of identity divide us as a country and that we all would be better off under a colorblind system.”

    They have a point. I’m assuming the Asian-Americans are not claiming their position is to promote a “colorblind” society. As you point out, that simply cannot work. What is more interesting is that this group is advocating for a meritocracy, for which, at least in China, there is a long history.

    My brother who worked in China for ten years was constantly impressed by the young Chinese who were running the city governments he had to negotiate with. They were, he said, the smartest people he ever met. Asian-Americans are well known for their academic discipline and success. If colleges, especially the Ivy League universities, take in and train the best minds in the country, that is excellent. With one proviso: that those students are actively encouraged and rewarded for going into public service. Identity politics has caused severe damage to our culture and politics. But if we can get the best, whatever color, to start taking leadership positions, that will benefit all of us, regardless of color and gender.

  174. I'm a Harvard senior from a middle-class Mexican-American family, and I've made the Dean's List for 3 out of the last 4 years. Whether or not affirmative action played a role in my admission into Harvard, I don't know, but I do get tired of people (such as many of the commenters here) implying that I took someone else's spot because of my ethnicity, or that my mere presence here is evidence of a decline in standards.

  175. @Diego
    It’s affirmative action policy that’s leading to your anger and frustration. It implies that certain students aren’t as well qualified and taints the accomplishments of all students in the intended beneficiary class. Without affirmative action, no one could reasonably dispute your qualifications.

  176. @Diego
    Ah, Diego, but therein lies the problem with the current system at your college, and the very thing that Asian-Americans are protesting. As it stands now, people can only assume that if you are a person of color, you must be a token, since Harvard allots a number of spaces to people of color, at the expense of qualifications. Professor Boddie is kidding herself when she asserts that the very tokenism you are experiencing now isn't happening, but that it would happen in a colorblind system.
    I also fail to understand why, as Professor Boddie states, black or Hmong applicants growing up in poor or rough neighborhoods would necessarily have "very different experiences from white applicants"; are there no poor white applicants?

  177. @Diego As a Harvard senior I hope you can see the fallacy in your argument. There will always be a shadow hanging over a minority's achievement as long as a quota system exists, even if you are on the Dean's list.

  178. I do not even remotely agree with the authors premise that “white” people cannot act blind to other people’s “race”, whatever that is. I fully concur with Mark who suggests socio economic class should be weighted rather than outdated relics of the 20th century like the concept of race. This is why I can’t vote for Democrats today. Everything to them is about classifying humans into non scientific categories which ultimately leads to “us” vs “them”.

    Last time I checked we were all humans. We have different color hair, eyes, and yes even skin, among other differences that are just cosmetic. That said, socio economic and certainly cultural differences should be the driving force (other than grades and accomplishments) for determination of acceptance to a university or not.

  179. The author suggests that a large portion of the more than 40,000 applicants to Harvard are qualified so some extra criteria such as race must be used to select students for admission. This inevitably leads to claims of discrimination. Does the author also suggests that among the portion of the qualified applicants there is a good mix of students of different background? If so, why not create a lottery system and pick students at random? By using other factors to select students, Harvard is making statement that some students among the qualified pool is more "qualified" than others, which, according the author, is not true. The current approach also causes people to suspect Harvard actually go outside of qualified pool to pick "preferred" students. Harvard, like many elite universities values the prestige of its admission, a randomized admission among a vast pool of qualified students seems unsophisticated. But the current system assigns arbitrary scores of desirability to applicants that unnecessarily harms young people's self-confidence. In honesty one reason people like the author worry about the consequence of the law suit may be that she suspects there is not a sufficient mix of applicants in the qualified pool. Therefore, the qualification itself has to be modified for people of different race and background. In a layman's view that is awfully similar to discrimination.

  180. Elise Boddie states: "They want to outlaw the modest use of race." The "They" refers to a group of Asian-American students and the "use of race" is not "modest" since discrimination against Asian-Americans is blatant and pervasive. An analysis of recently discovered admissions documents has shown that Harvard and its college admissions officers carry implicit racial biases against Asian-Americans. Harvard's institutional policy is to employ an entirely subjective rating system so as to exclude a large number of Asian-American applicants despite their academic achievements and extracurricular activities. Harvard engages in race-based discrimination by employing a biased rating system for "personal traits," and consistently scores Asian-Americans lower on traits such as "likability," "kindness," and "positive personality" then other racial and ethnic groups.

    Boddie is listed as "a nationally-recognized expert in civil rights," so you'd expect her to either advocate for Asian-American students, or at the very least, fairly explain their position. She does neither, and she's not forthcoming about the legal history of "diversity" either. Boddie implicitly dismisses the idea of "reverse discrimination" by asserting, in effect, that a policy doesn’t count as discrimination if it harms a non-marginalized group. However, as we see with Asian-Americans in higher education, Boddie's formulation collapses since she refuses to contend with which groups should be considered marginalized.

  181. @Robert B Absolutely. I was expecting at least some account of the perspective of the Asian American students who filed the lawsuit, but there was nothing. That's disturbing to say the least.

  182. As I've already stated, the author fails to advocate for Asian American students and ignores their arguments. However, the suit errs in pretending that to stop discrimination against Asian applicants all race-conscious affirmative action must end. Affirmative action of the kind upheld by the Supreme Court in Bakke is compatible with addressing discrimination, and the suit wrongly contends that if we ignore race-consciousness and discrimination in America they will somehow, magically, disappear.

    The real problem is that Harvard secretly chose to deploy racial balancing in a manner that keeps the number of Asians artificially low relative to those who are less strong on academic measures, specifically those who enjoy the advantage of being legacy admissions. Legacy is nothing but an affirmative action policy for the rich and well-connected whose wealthy families give large donations. (Harvard sets aside nearly 30 percent of all admissions for legacies). The negative impact of legacy admissions on Asians, most of whom are immigrants or children of immigrants, is the real problem. Legacy totally distorts any debate about "fairness in admissions." On a huge scale, legacy gives preferential treatment to wealthy well-connected applicants, almost exclusively white, over all other groups, including Asians. Wealthy Conservatives backing this suit pretend that "diversity" is why Asians are disadvantaged in admissions today, when the privilege bestowed by legacy is the real problem.

  183. @Robert B As I've already stated, the author fails to advocate for Asian American students and ignores their arguments. However, the suit errs in pretending that to stop discrimination against Asian applicants all race-conscious affirmative action must end. Affirmative action of the kind upheld by the Supreme Court in Bakke is compatible with addressing discrimination. The suit wrongly asserts that if we ignore race-consciousness and discrimination in America they'll somehow, magically, disappear.

    The real problem is that Harvard secretly chose to deploy racial balancing in a manner that keeps the number of Asians artificially low relative to those who are less strong on academic measures, specifically those who enjoy the advantage of being legacy admissions. Legacy is nothing but an affirmative action policy for the rich and well-connected whose wealthy families give large donations. (Harvard sets aside nearly 30 percent of all admissions for legacies). The negative impact of legacy admissions on Asians, most of whom are immigrants or children of immigrants, is the real problem. Legacy totally distorts any debate about "fairness in admissions." On a huge scale, legacy gives preferential treatment to wealthy well-connected applicants, almost exclusively white, over all other groups, including Asians. Wealthy Conservatives backing this suit pretend that "diversity" is why Asians are disadvantaged in admissions today, when the privilege bestowed by legacy is the real problem.

  184. A University's mission is broader than producing a cohort of excellent test-takers. It used to be described in terms like "preparing the leaders of tomorrow" or, more baldly, "educating the sons and daughters of the ruling class". This was done via a wide-ranging curriculum emphasizing history, languages, arts, and sciences that produced generalists capable of dealing with a rapidly changing world. Throw in some opportunities for competition in extracurricular activities to inculcate the importance of teamwork and working with others of different backgrounds and they had a model that produced the America that saved the world in WWII and led the remarkable post-war post-colonial boom. Over-specialization leads to sub-optimal performance.

  185. As an ex-sociology adjunct who did not have tenure and participate in admissions--and as a alumnus of a school that actively considers race, and who had to apply twice to get in--I think it's wrong to either force students to fabricate cover letters that hide an undeniable part of their life experience, or to contrive to prevent admissions committee members from viewing that information. If admissions were solely based on scores and grades, a machine could tabulate the data and make random selections. But doesn't that describe an admissions policy that dehumanizes applicants?

    I suppose that if everyone had the opportunity to attend college, this issue wouldn't be connected to our nation's history of disenfranchising people of color. But that's not the world we live in, and to pretend that our history has no meaning for either our daily lives or our future is to thrust our heads in the sand. Count me out.

  186. @J Young
    No, it describes an admissions office that doesn't support a large staff (paid out of the students' tuition) pretending to evaluate applications individually, but actually indulging their prejudices.

  187. @J Young Contrary to popular opinion, there are universities other than the Ivies and a few other highly competitive schools. They do educate students, and any student who is admitted has the opportunity to get a good education. No one is being "disenfranchised".

    If the child is black, the traditionally black colleges are an outstanding opportunity for them and have been for a very long time.

    In August, there are still a lot of universities with spaces available. If one truly wants an education, it is out there for them.

  188. This is precisely the way ALL college applications should be. Race is irrelevant. What is relevant is economic background. The children of economically disadvantaged parents are far less likely to breakout of poverty irrespective of race and should be prioritized

  189. @JD So are you saying that educated parents who have worked hard to be able to see that their children go to good schools, and have made education a priority in their families, should be penalized? That that admissions slot should be given to a child of an economically disadvantaged family? Where on earth is the "fairness" in that?

    I am sick to death of the "culture of the victim" that this country has become. Children from poor families have always managed to find a way to get an education if they had the qualifications. President Dwight Eisenhower came from a poor family. He went to the US Military Academy at West Point, where an education was free! There are many, many opportunities for those with limited means to get a fine education. The Ivies now give a free ride (no loans at all) to the children of families with incomes under $60,000 a year.

    The cream will rise to the top if it is allowed to do so. Teachers in ALL schools are always on the lookout for that child with a sparkle - that indefinable "something" that shows drive, discipline and motivation. They'll get in on their own merit.

  190. That would be all but impossible as some people's names might well indicate their race. If I see an application from a student named Nguyen, I'd be inclined to guess they are Vietnamese. The list of this could well be very long. Names are often, though not always, tied to ethnicity.

  191. The real issue is the fact that high schools are not graduating a sufficient number of qualified minorities needed to meet the demand of the (est.) 3,000 colleges and universities trying to have them enroll.
    Suppose ... for a moment ... if Harvard were to offer any public school system a $25,000 'finders fee' for each qualified minority who matriculated? And, another $25,000 for each year the student finished with an overall 3.0+ gpa?

    I'd bet my bottom dollar Harvard would not have to make concessions based on race.

  192. @T.Burnett That would be a great plan if your endgame is to heighten racial animosity even more and make whites go even further to the right. You wrote " high schools are not graduating a sufficient number of qualified minorities". Yes they are, they are called Asians and they outperform whites.

  193. I am a professor at an ethnically diverse university in California, where I sit on a committee that evaluates student scholarship applications. While student names and any demographic data are redacted, many students list membership in ethnicity-related organizations and write essays discussing their lives in immigrant families and communities. Other students discuss non-ethnically related activities, economic and family challenges, and so on. As faculty reviewers, we consider all manner of achievements and challenges, as well as good ol' grades. Just because the students aren't asked to report their ethnicity doesn't mean they're expected to actively keep it a secret.

    The argument that students would be censored in their applications, forced to hide activities like Latino Student Organization, if true, needs to be better supported than it is in this article. The idea that they would be hindered in writing essays about Dolores Huerta seems to me implausible.

    Harvard is being taken to court for limiting enrollment of Asian students through the use of a rather questionable "personality test." It's not clear to me that protecting students from racial bias through backhanded measures necessarily means censoring the students themselves. We should certainly be alert to potential overreach or slippery slopes in any decision. But we should also be careful to avoid straw men.

  194. As a college professor I want but two things of my students: The will to succeed and the ability to rise to the standards I set in my classes. If you can narrow the pool to those students and that is more students than there are seats, have a lottery.

  195. The solution proposed by plaintiffs -- GPAs and test scores -- is patently absurd. GPA without regard to the rigor of the classes taken renders GPA meaningless and considering the classes taken without regard to what the school offers (included with admissions packets) is comparing apples to oranges. Test scores are not a particularly good predictor of success (as research has shown and what of schools that have conservatories of music -- Oberlin or Rochester for example -- are they to look at the SAT score and ignore whether the soprano sings or croaks?

    More lightly -- what happens to college football and basketball if the teams are assembled based on SAT scores and GPAs, not on whether the students have any athletic talent? (I'm not sure that would be a loss, of course).

  196. If grades and test scores are not good predictors of success, but lead to under representation of some ethnic groups, then the real solution is to bar the use of grades and test scores by colleges in admissions. That would level the playing field.

  197. @View from the hill It is disingenuous for Dr. Boddie to mis-characterize plaintiff's position as proposing to only use GPA and test scores as admission criteria. This is a strawman that Dr. Boddie hope the reader to take away from this article. In fact, the plaintiffs in Harvard lawsuit never asked for that. All they requested is Asian American applicants not to be treated differently from students from other races solely on the basis of race. In fact internal data from Harvard that came out from the discovery process of the lawsuit actually showed that in general Asian American applicants not only excel in academics but also have more extracurricular activities than applicants from other races.

  198. @View from the hill

    People say stuff like this without actually looking at the empirical data - the COMBINATION of both GPA's and Test Scores are an excellent predictor of success.

    On the other hand - the color of one's skin is a particularly bad predictor

  199. "The problem is that no one is colorblind, and acting as if we are makes us worse off, not better. Research shows that white people who try to be colorblind often seem more prejudiced and unfriendly to people of color. People of color report more racial hostility in so-called colorblind environments.
    "Colorblindness, therefore, forces race underground. It turns people of color into tokens and entrenches whiteness as the default."
    I don't follow the author's thinking here. How does research show that? It may be somewhere in the linked article, but I'd appreciate the author giving us a quick explanation.

  200. Harvard admits to using a "personality" scale that is solely subjective. Asians score poorly on it. Harvard has a history of using similar tricks in the past to keep Jewish students out. Harvard can not be trusted . It's hands are unclean when it comes to admission bias.

  201. Eliminate the "race" question on the application. Do not ask students to censor who they are. it will be their choice on whether or not to share any details about their race or other identity details in any personal statements, essays, videos, whatever the college uses for admissions. However, instruct the admissions officers, and also applying students, that race cannot be considered as a qualifying or disqualifying factor on the application. Prejudice and desire to right any past racial wrongs on the part of admissions officers will still happen in some numbers, this is part of human nature, but if the official institutional policy is to disregard race, it will be happening less and less often,
    However, please, consider the family's income at admission time in order to give some boost to brilliant kids coming from economically disadvantaged circumstances.

  202. "We need to stop pretending that affirmative action is the source of our problems around race." -- but why isn't it, at least partly? It makes tars _all_ minority high-achievers, by raising the possibility that they help they got from affirmative action outweighed the hindrance they faced due to race. If race is proxy for economic disadvantage, why not use economic status directly? Those from poorer families get a leg up in admissions, regardless of race.

  203. Make it race, income and legacy blind. Several years ago, coming out of National Science Bowl was an Asian-American student from CT who was likely the top science and math student in the country. An incredible mind. His dream was Harvard, but rejected he took MIT. Harvard's loss in my estimation. And years before Harvard denied Carl Sagan tenure - whereupon he went to Cornell. I look forward to Harvard getting it's due, where the elite and those with family connections too often get in over more worthy candidates.

  204. Actually let's not make it in one blind... Harvard can afford to pay for the poor... Let's give the poor a lift, so long as they are equal in every thi g else.

  205. The days of affirmative action are numbered. And that's a good thing. Merit, not race, should determine whether or not a student is admitted to university.

  206. It is staggering to see the number of people who don't understand how diversity truly brings strength to an institution, and is thus a quality to be pursued. A college should not select students simply based on grades or test scores; all sorts of qualities come into play when attempting to select and build the best possible student body. Th take an absurd example, no college wants to have an incoming class of 1500 white males named Steve from Massachusetts who want to play tennis and major in physics, even if each of those applicants was the valedictorian of his high school class and had perfect SAT scores. Diversity has many aspects: geography, academic interest, gender, race, religion, non-academic interests, learning disabilities, and so much more. Those students who brought the suit on the basis that selection should consider only test scores are simply wrong. And if they think that life can be quantified to that level, they are in for some pretty rough decades ahead.

  207. @Roy It's a mis-characterization of the plaintiffs to say that they want the criteria to be just about test scores. Asian-Americans scored higher on all criteria--not just test scores and grades, but extracurriculars AND interviews. They were just downgraded on "personality" by people who never met them. The Harvard admissions committee thought they were so clever to use personality as a proxy for blatant racial discrimination.

  208. @Roy - Previous grades & high-shool standardized test scores are a rather weak and limited measure of any student's potential. There are many factors that must be taken into consideration for each and every applicant. Too often, the primary concern when evaluating a freshman applicant is the percentage chance that he or she will still be there in sophomore year (and all the way to graduation) pumping in the revenues the universities feast on like a vampire feasts on blood.

  209. @Roy

    Your 1500 persons are linked by skin color. Are they also of the same ethnicity, or do they reflect the wide range of ethnics with pale skin? Your 1500 persons all live in Massachusetts at the time of application, but are they all citizens? Are some of them green card holders, are some legal immigrants on parole, are some visa holders (extended visit or high school student) are some undocumented? Do all of them, for the purpose of application to Harvard get to claim that they are Americans because they live in Massachusetts at the time of apllication? It does not seem to matter to Harvard whether you are a US Citizen, or not, or simply undocumented.

  210. The issue the Asian-American students are trying to address is that admissions officers might not be merely "modestly considering" race as part of the whole picture of an applicant--they are possibly reducing an applicant's entire identity to race alone, in the pursuit of a nicely balanced graph to place on reports and webpages.

    Also, it's an undeniable fact that certain minorities are treated as more "deserving" of assistance and special consideration over other minorities. For scholarships and programs funded by NSF grants, for example, Asians are not considered an "underrepresented group," despite representing only 5% of the American population.

    It's very poetic and idealistic to talk about the "fullness of our humanity," but in reality people still sort other people into reductive racial categories. That theoretical Hmong student, no matter how hard he or she works, will always be "the cookie-cutter Asian with good SAT scores but no personality." The theoretical black student from Chicago will unfortunately be labeled "The high-achieving African-American unicorn we need to recruit because it's good for the program."

  211. The article reads as if the asian-american students who went to court were the bad guys. In reality everybody has the right to seek a judicial decision. It is up to the courts to decide if something is right or wrong.

  212. @Andreas This is written in the same way whites who wanted segregation and apartheid would have written to convince people that they were the real victims.

  213. Why should race be factor in college admissions? Isn't that a form of racism as well ?

    If the idea is to bring about a sense of equity in society using education as a means, then do so based on income levels for poverty and the ills of a lack of healthy income cuts across race, gender and ethnicity. Who would you rather see be admitted if there one opening and the onus is on creating a sense of social equity : A low income Caucasian kid or a well to do African American kid?

    I have seen up close the ills of misguided affirmative action policies drive the Indian education system into the toilet. The so called brain drain from India started primarily as a revolt against the educational quota system.

    Spend the effort instead to improve the quality of education in inner city schools, centralize the school tax collection at the level of the state as opposed to leaving them at the level of the municipalities, distribute a greater share of the tax revenues to improve schools in poorer areas of a state, improve the public transportation system that lowers spend on school buses, drive more localization of the middle and high schools as opposed to loading them, driving down the cost of education at public and private colleges making it easier for all to attend school etc.

    The goal should be to improve the percentage of college graduates - not just from one race or another.

    Make education truly universal. All other types of talk are just a meaningless sales pitch.

  214. @Plato
    Equalizing funding in schools isn’t as much of an issue as parental involvement. If you don’t teach your child to behave at home and instill the idea that education is important, all the funding in the world won’t make them successful students.

  215. How about eliminating the need for the SAT then? High school GPA is a better predictor of academic success in college. And, there is nothing to stop Harvard from using zipcode to balance demographics.

  216. Should we provide all with a legitimate shot at admission based on achievement, or should we set quotas? Should we control access to opportunity, or should we control outcomes? Not easy questions because we know circumstances matter. However, should people who achieve be penalized for someone else's lousy upbringing? Nothing but questions. But I disagree with this author on this particular point.

  217. @s.s.c. It is an easy question. Why are racial quotes only used when blacks are underrepresented? Why in sports and the music industry aren't they being called for since blacks are way overrepresented and all other minorities pretty invisible? Certainly sports and talent scouts could direct their attention to under represented minorities. It's as though blacks feel anywhere they are overrepresented they deserve it (except for prison) but any place other racial groups are over represented and they are under represented they are being cheated. It's an ugly attitude.

  218. If you remove race, you will probably have to remove name, essay, clubs and organizations, and finally interview. Way too many clues. Then we are left with the applicants who look best with test scores, but might not have much else to offer.

    In an effort to be color/gender/ethnicity/sexual orientation etc., blind, we now are now more aware and afraid of all of them than ever before.

    We will never please everyone. Never.

  219. Ms. Boddie posits that a modest use of race in determining admission is vital to college education. First of all, she provides no definition or guideline on what she means by "modest." If you happen to be one of the Asian students denied admission due to causes alleged in the lawsuit, then even one instance is modest usage of race. Second, she conveniently ignores the fact that the race information is being used against the Asian students to deny admission. This is the epitome of racial discrimination. How anyone, let alone someone with her credentials, can advocate for such discrimination is incomprehensible. And finally, after all that, she states that pretending to be color blind will divide us. So, in the end, I believe Ms. Boddie's position can be summarized as racial distinction is needed and can be used to discriminate against and divide out the Asian students. In America, this is illegal and unconstitutional.

  220. While I respect Professor Boddie, I must disagree on a couple points. She brings up the example of not being able to talk about ones leadership role in the high school Latino club to suggest that applicants can no longer distinguish themselves from other 4.0 GPA students. Yet what about talking about your volunteering experience with the homeless, with the drug addicted, with the children with cancer in the hospital? What about talking about the challenges you faced as a child in an impoverished neighborhood where food insecurity, or violence, or drug use were endemic? Should it matter the race of an applicant when they rose from adversity of these circumstances?

  221. Harvard has along history of using race and religion to determine who gets accepted in school. In early 20th century Harvard was so concerned about the number of Jewish students being accepted based solely on academic achievements that they introduced interview as integral part of admission process. With that they controlled precise who should get the opportunity to study at Harvard. The issue which not being addressed is the significant number of positions which granted to children of the donors and professors which undoubtedly reduces the number of the positions available to others. Unfortunately there is no perfect system to select students for highly competitive and prestigious schools. I just wonder if Harvard or other school use methods that are used in medical school admission (structured and validated stations) for applicant who qualify on basis on academic achievements rather the race or connection to school.

  222. This opinion article would be much more persuasive if it referred to the actual experience at state universities in states like California and Michigan where race is not to be used as an admission factor (by state law). I know for certain that there were successful applicants to UC Berkeley in the most recent admission round who referred to their personal experiences with all of the detail the article claims would be barred if Harvard didn't use applicant "race" as an admission factor.

    (The point the article makes that not all "Asian" applicants are the same is well known to those of us here in Minnesota who know students are variously Hmong, Indian, or Chinese.)

  223. What about all of the Chinese applicants from China! Will they be forced to hide where they were born, where they live? Many American schools support their financial aid programs by admitting Chinese students, many of whom pay full tuition. This law suit could end up hurting both schools and Chinese students.

  224. @frank Generally internationals students are not counted when reporting racial composition of the student body. At least that was the case when I went to college.

  225. Hahvahd still has an undergraduate program? I thought they gave up on that years ago.

  226. Boddie's essay shows exactly why Harvard should lose this lawsuit. The civil rights laws are clear: discrimination on the basis of race is illegal.

    It is mathematically impossible to discriminate "for" one group without also discriminating "against" other groups, and mischief (such as stereotyping the personalities of various groups as being less pleasant) is inherent in the discrimination. Far from being a"modest" consideration among many factors, race is actually the dominant factor in admissions decisions, as shown by Asians' average SAT scores being multiple standard deviations higher than groups currently fancied by discriminatory admissions committees.

    The legal contortions in prior Supreme Court decisions on affirmative action derive from the Justices' fear of what an objective, non-discriminatory admissions process might produce. Ultimately, the court can't propagate an obvious legal fiction forever because it is afraid of reality. It must either come down on the side of the law as written (no discrimination on the basis of race) or invalidate the law and allow the universities (and maybe other providers of public accommodations) to discriminate as they please.

    Let the chips fall where they may. Reality is a much better basis for policy than fiction and fig-leaves. Perhaps when we honestly confront the causes of different academic outcomes, we can formulate policies that improve outcomes across the board.

  227. Without cavilling with the authors point, I was struck her advocacy of racial preferences/discrimination (as this is, while she refuses to acknowledge it, a zero sum situation as class size fixed) to combat racial preferences/discrimination. As Sandra OConnor sagely noted, at some point we have to just stop making any racial preferences and stop discriminating for any race. One can debate when that day will be, but we cant ignore its salience. The author suggests that racism is inherent permanent, in stem, etc, and thus AA, like racism itself ,must roll out into perpetuity. At some point, AA advocates simply have to deal with thsi incoherence/oxymoron. Advocates for AA ahve to be Abel to define when it will end, what the endpoints are, how we will know its time. When whites are the monitoring ? And who exactly is “white”, “black”, “colored” with increasing mixing of racial backgrounds in marriages/children ? To insist there is no end is not tenable and in fact will only embed racism deeper into our society. The answer, obviously, is to emphasize economic affirmative action which is NOT practicing rascism, as Univ o California does.

  228. Is it really in the best interest of the country for leading colleges to go the way of Berkeley (CA), where of the 30,574 undergraduates, only 535 are Black? That’s 1.6%, about the same as hyper conservative Hillsdale College in Michigan, and less (unbelievably) than Washington and Lee in Virginia.

    The folks that carry on about “lowering standards” for POC’s have no idea just how many highly qualified applicants that Harvard reviews. Believe me, everyone who gets in is very highly qualified.

  229. This lawsuit races interesting issues about the role diversity should play in college admissions, but this is such a poorly reasoned essay, I don’t know where to start. Why disparage this as a lawsuit being brought by “a group of Asian-American students denied admission to Harvard”? Why not acknowledge that there is substantial evidence that Harvard (and other schools) discriminate against applicants who are Asian, which is the plaintiffs’ actual complaint?
    Don’t talk about schools’ “modest use of race” unless you make some attemp to quantify “modest”; if it’s so modest, what’s the worry?
    Nothing will stop students from listing their extracurriculars; schools will simply have to consider them as extracurriculars and not as code for race.
    Why compare “a black student who grew up on the south side of Chicago” and a “Hmong aplicant from a working-class neighborhood” to “a white applicant”? Are “white applicants” monolithic?
    I haven’t followed the case, but I doubt the plaintiffs in the lawsuit want Harvard to consider ONLY gpa and test scores; my understanding is that they just want Harvard to not hold their race against them.
    Don’t blame Blum for financing the lawsuit; financing lawsuits is not the problem. And the author won’t complain when someone finances a lawsuit she approves of.

  230. Using the example you are using regarding a black kids from south side of Chicago, say vs a Asian kid from NYC Chinatown with restaurant worker parents. For simplicity sake, say family incomes are equal also. Wouldn't they be equally disadvantaged but Harvard would clearly favor one of them? This only shows the wrong assumption of Asians, or Whites, are automatically "advantaged". If Harvard reveal their data, I wouldn't be surprised to find that black kids from Washington DC's lawyers' family is taking place of this poor Chinatown kid.

  231. Perhaps nationwide demographics should prevail. Would Asians like it if only the top 6% of Asian applicants were admitted? This seems fair on the surface, but it is not in reality. This lawsuit should cause fewer Asians admitted to Harvard, not more.

  232. The author misused statistics in the following statement: "The proportion of Asian-American students in Harvard’s admitted classes has grown by 27 percent since 2010, and they make up nearly a quarter of the admitted class of 2022 (overall, Asian Americans make up about 6 percent of the United States population).
    1. It is extremely usual to calculate percent increases based on two percent numbers. It makes the increase much more than it really is.
    2. Asian Americans are younger than the general population.

    The author appears insincere.

  233. Modest use of race? Puleeze...Being asian penalizes you the equivalent of 200 points on the SATs. No one calls a 200 point difference on the SATs modest. No one is demanding that test scores be the only criteria. They are demanding that they not discriminate against certain ethnic backgrounds. That anyone fails to see the validity of this is appalling.

  234. how about they leave off if any relatives went to the school...

  235. Sorry I do understand you, but most Americans would see nothing wrong with this. You somewhat craftily say, instead of diversity, that it formed a life. Unfortunately, everyone has that same merit. Their race shaped their lives. You may not realize it, but you just made it subject to a suspect category under Supreme Court jurisprudence. Of course it is anyway, but putting it this way seems to highlight that this is an inborn characteristic which is almost always suspect. My child's school is 70% monoracial. My daughter and most of her friends are minorities for the first time in their lives. I don't mind. The majority scored higher than others. They are Asians. It's the American way. Don't help destroy it. If you earn it, you should have it. If you just inherited it, such as being a certain race...meh.

  236. Does anyone doubt that a student would get more out of being in a course with e.g. 25 Azerbajani-Colombian bisexuals whose thinking ran the gamut from very conservative to very liberal, as opposed to 25 people from 25 backgrounds who are all part of the ILL -- illiberal left-wing? Identity is the least important thing.

  237. Man's volitional mind is under attack by elitist racists, egalitarian racists and pseudo-scientific materialists. Kant's reality-mind split has rationalized the hatred of focusing mind, thru the senses, onto concrete reality. The alternative is Ayn Rand's discovery of free will as the power to focus or to evade focus.

  238. To paraphrase Chief Justice Roberts, if you want to stop discriminating based on race, then stop discriminating based on race.

    Affirmative action is just plain wrong.
    It is asking for race-based discrimination when it benefits minorities, but those same minorities demand a color-blind society otherwise.

    Affirmative action is holding us back as a society.

    (And no doubt I will be accused of white privilege)

  239. @G As a White male I have to disagree. After decades of Whites benefiting from their own version of Affirmative Action (VA loans only for Whites, legacy admissions that are, essentially, only for Whites, etc., etc.), it's about time others are getting a balancing consideration. And you are simply uninformed in claiming "those sme minorities demand a color-blind society otherwise." Sorry, but "those same minorities" realistically understand there simply is no such thing as a "color-blind society." That's just another White fantasy.

    As for "accusing" you of white privilege, there simply is no "accusation" involved at all. If you are White, in this society, you get any number of unearned privileges--as do I. It's a simple reality, it's not your fault, and it says nothing at all about you as a human being. What does speak volumes is what you do with that privilege.

  240. Even if what you propose is not to promote white interests.

  241. Race should have no rule in a college admissions policy. If you think it should then do an equal quota where you have 20% white, 20% black, 20% Hispanic, 20% Asian, and 20% other. And then apply the same qualifying standards across all the students and make the admissions office work harder to get the seats filled. The problem is everyone has a complaint about subjective factors, ie they are inherently subjective!

  242. Good idea. Only bigots care about race.

    Massachusetts formerly made it illegal for a college to require a photograph on its application forms. The purpose was to reduce the chance that evaluation of the form would be affected by racial prejudice. It's not perfect---if you have a Chinese name, you are almost certainly ethnic Chinese, and ethnicity can often be inferred from names alone---but it is better than nothing.

    Even better would be "blind" admissions, in which names and other identifying information (name of high school, etc.) is stripped from applications. Some scientific journals do this when reviewing submitted papers---the reviewer doesn't know the names or institutional affiliation of the authors.

  243. Using race against an otherwise fully qualified applicant is as un-American as one can get. It is illegal and immoral and needs to be ended.