Research Paper on Affirmative Action (Positive Discrimination) And Asians Admissions

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1838 Words
Date:  2022-11-04


Affirmative action otherwise known as positive discrimination is a situation where the race of the applicant is considered during admission into an institution or an organization. In the recent past, the Asian population in the United States has faced numerous cases of discrimination in their selection into colleges and other institutions of higher learning - something this article addresses. The article precisely focuses on the Asian population keeping in mind that there are different types of Asians ranging from Koreans, Chinese, Japanese, Indians to Bangladeshi. Nevertheless, most of these Asian faces face the same problem of discrimination and a given form of prejudice. For many Asian families, education and especially at the top levels is a top priority for them. They leave their homes halfway across the world and come to settle down in the Western Hemisphere. With the scores that many Asian students can achieve it is difficult not to question the admission criteria used in admitting most of these student's into university. Favoritism towards minority groups may open a window of opportunity for many of those that are from certain backgrounds. The article also keeps in mind that ignoring this selectivity is currently denying many other well-deserving students as well.

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Back in high school, one was required to choose from the three main core field, that is, the engineering field, the math field and lastly the science field. I had always had an interest in science, and therefore, I went for it. Unfortunately, biology was not one of my best subjects, and my poor performance was reflected in that particular exam. Although I did not excel in biology, that did not stop my selection. In fact, only 16 students were short-listed, and I was among them. Interestingly, I heard from many of my friends who I knew had amazing grades that they did not get selected. This situation made me analyze and think about how these selections are made. Therefore, I sort to find out more on whether the selection is made on the basis of skill, talent, and grades or is it done depending on the color of one's skin and background.

I also read about this particular young man by the name Austin Jia who is a student at Duke and was previously rejected by the Ivy League colleges even after excelling in his SATs and other extra activities such as debate, tennis and state orchestra. Like Mr. Jia, I too believe that he should have had a fair shot at an Ivy League college of his choice. What caught my attention was the fact that he indicates that he knew some of his classmates that had lower points than him but were still admitted to the Ivy League colleges. Further investigations showed that Mr. Jia is one of the many students who are ethnically profiled during selection and admission. As such the following article aims at demystifying the magnitude of this issue while paying close attention to Southeast Asian Americans who are by far one of the most disadvantaged subgroups in the United States

Southeast Asian American

This particular group of people refers to individuals who come from countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Burma. Unfortunately, this specific group of individuals is widely discriminated, and a minimal amount of data exists to analyze how this student perform while in the United States. The little data present indicates that these students perform worse compared to their East Asian counterparts from countries such as Japan, South Korea, and China. This has also reflected in the rate at which Southeast Asian students drop out of high school. Back in 2016 the National Centre for Education Statistics, the Department of Education's statistical research indicated that the dropout rate for Burmese high school students was at 30% compared to the less than 1% of Chinese students.

In the past, researchers have often classified Asian Americans under the same research roof and failed to account for the vast array of differences that exist between East and Southeast Asian Americans. The southeastern subgroup has been neglected for a long time because of their numbers, and therefore, the sample sizes are often too small.

Race-Conscious Admission and Selection

According to the United States Census Bureau, 2017 Community Survey, many Asian Americans are better educated than the general United States population. Unfortunately, there exists a significant disparity within the same group. On average, 55.3% of all Chinese, 74.6 of all Indians, and 30.4% of all Vietnamese have a bachelor's degree or higher (Har). This is compared to 32% of Americans and 15.5 of all Laotians living in the United States.

In the recent past, there has been a lawsuit against Harvard University arising from allegations of racial discrimination (Eligon). This lawsuit has triggered some interest in the minds of many Asian Americans about race-conscious admissions and selections. As such, many of these Asian-Americans have come out to support affirmative action policies openly. Recent data indicate that back in 2012, close to 78% of all Chinese living in the United States supported affirmative action. Other Asian groups supported affirmative action but at 73%. Over the last couple of years, these numbers have changed, and as of 2016, only 41% of all Chinese in the United States supported Affirmative action while the rest of the Asians continue to support affirmative action at a constant 73%.

This data proves that Asian Americans have consistently supported affirmative action policies using the various ways which include setting up movements that push for the same. Many of these movements have directed their attention towards education and higher learning where cases of marginalization have barred a large number of marginalized groups from attending colleges or university (Tran). One such movement is the Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) which consists of some students who have been denied selection and admissions into Harvard. This particular group is suing Harvard on the grounds that it discriminates against race when admitting students and especially against Asian-American applicants. According to SFFA, Harvard has done this by giving preference to other races and groups. The same has been reported in other Ivy League Schools such as Yale University, University of Pennsylvania, University of North Carolina and others.

Other students from other Universities have welcomed the move indicating that the manner in which students have been selected over the years is questionable. There are also individual groups and organizations that have supported the SFFA move to sue Harvard because of discriminating against Asian-Americans. Some of these groups argue that if admission was made on the basis of academic measures alone, may Asian-Americans would be admitted into some of these prestigious universities. However, the race has become a form of merit upon which admission is based on.

Further allegations have arisen indicating that Harvard engages in racial biases by assigning Asian Americans specific 'personal scores' that are aimed at discrediting that particular applicant. The lawsuit indicates that Harvard employs certain quotas when it comes to admitting Asians as well as enforcing higher standards than for other people like White Americas. In certain universities, Asian students are demographically underrepresented which makes us question the true nature of diversity in our colleges and universities. However, the population deficit is a result of the application approval pool. Gersen indicates that since the 1990's the number of Asian freshmen in Harvard has remained relatively constant between 16% and 19% while the number has doubled in terms of the general Asian population.

In 2009 a study indicated that Asians had to score 140 points or higher in their S.A.T. as compared to the whites who applied for the same application. The personal score is contrary to the personality test because is part of a more extensive review process that considered a student's personal background and history with the aim of identifying particular information not highlighted in the standardized tests. Incidentally, this lawsuit has caught the attention of the white house and promoted a response (Thomason).

The Trump administration has decided to rescind the Obama Administration Guidelines on race-conscious admissions into campuses throughout the United States. The guidelines were issued in 2011 and 2016 in which colleges and universities were provided with a broader scope in determining a student's application where the race was considered in order to achieve diversity (Thomason). This is part of a bigger plan to oppose the previous race-conscious regime whose policies had been incorporated in many top institutions and upheld by the Supreme Court back in 2016 in the case of Fisher v. The University of Texas. The Justice Department has already begun taking action on affirmative action lead by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. This has begun by investigating the allegation into the discrimination cases against Asian-American applicants at Harvard University.

In 2011, the Obama administration in conjunction with the Justice and Education Departments encouraged colleges and universities to consider the applicant's race as a way of achieving diversity in our institutions of higher learning. This was contrary to the directives that had been provided by President George W. Bush's administrations telling institutions not to consider race in the admission process unless it was part of the institution's mission in achieving particular institutional goals. This is the standard the trump administration hopes to restore. This move has been met with mixed reactions with people like John B. King Jr - the president and chief executive of the Education Trust - expressing their disappointment by the move by Trump's administration. "This administration's continued and cruel attacks on civil rights and justice represent a horrific attempt to unravel the very fabric of our democracy," (Thomason).

Unfortunately, reducing a student's application to only numeric standards fails to account for ethnic richness and racial histories. Part of why affirmative action is encouraged is because it promotes ethnic diversity and also helps to appreciate other races and the historical achievements associated with that particular race. Researchers indicate that the elimination of the non-quantifiable factors during campus admission would significantly affect the enrollment of minority groups such as African-Americans, Latino-Americans, and Asian-Americans (Nguyen). David Card, an economist who is analyzing the Harvard case, indicates that relying on academic criteria alone would primarily benefit white students and disadvantage the Asian-American students.

In addition, standardized test and grading are also not free from bias based on ethnicity and race. Studies have indicated that socioeconomic status is directly proportional to a high score. This is worsened by the fact that data aggregation obscures the disparities facing the Asian Americans. This means that our education system is blind to those most affected by systemic disadvantages. There is a need for diversity and recognition of the fact that as much as most Asia American applicants come from India and China there are also some minority heritage that is of Southern Asian origin and other countries from the Asian continent. The opposite of this scenario is the discrimination of minority Chinese communities such as Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos that are likely to be identified as people who come from households that have a lower level of education attainment, live in poverty, confront gang violence and have limited English proficiency which is higher as compared to other Asian Americans (Ngu...

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Research Paper on Affirmative Action (Positive Discrimination) And Asians Admissions. (2022, Nov 04). Retrieved from

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