HomeCampusConservative group accuses Virginia schools of discriminating against Asian American applicants

Conservative group accuses Virginia schools of discriminating against Asian American applicants

A new report claims the University of Virginia makes it tougher for Asian Americans to gain admittance

Five Virginia schools are being accused of discriminating against Asian Americans student applicants.

A study by the Center for Equal Opportunity, a conservative think tank, alleges that race is a major factor in determining who is accepted at the University of Virginia, and the College of William and Mary, and to a lesser degree at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (known as Virginia Tech), James Madison University, and George Mason University.

At UVA and WM, Black applicants were admitted at higher rates than Whites and Asian Americans. WM also admitted Hispanics at a higher rate than Asian American and White applicants even though the latter two groups had higher test scores.

The colleges are disputing the study’s conclusions saying they use “holistic” admissions as permitted by the Supreme Court. But none of the schools commented specifically on the report’s findings for their own school.

“Virginia’s public universities are perhaps the country’s most selective among those still allowed to use racial and ethnic preferences,” President Roger Clegg wrote in an email blast. Yet “perhaps the most salient finding” is the uniform discrimination against Asian Americans in test scores by all five. (Differences in GPA medians, by contrast, are negligible across racial groups.)

James Madison University and George Mason University – two of the three that admitted White and Asian students at higher rates than Black and Hispanic students – both claim that race is not a factor in their admissions process at all.

“Mason, a top tier research institution, is responsible for 64 percent of enrollment growth in the state in the last 10 years,” David Burge, vice president for enrollment management at JMU, wrote in a statement, “We pride ourselves on how many students we admit, not how many we turn away.”

“JMU is committed to diversity and strives to be an inclusive community that values the richness of all individuals and perspectives,” without making race and gender a “consideration” in admissions, spokesperson Wyatt told The Fix.

The conservative think tank’s lack of communication with JMU led it to draw conclusions that are not substantiated by the holistic nature of its admission process, he said.

“Test scores are not a major factor in our decision making process nor do we consider overall GPA as part of the admissions decision,” he explained. “Without understanding our admission criteria, the report’s findings are useless.”

Among the other highlights of the report are:

• 35% of Black applicants were admitted to UVA, as were 32% of Hispanics, 32% of Asian Americans, and 30% of Whites.

• At WM, 41% of Blacks were admitted, as were 50% of Hispanics, 37% of Asian Americans, and 35% of Whites. The opposite was the case for the other schools, which admitted Asian Americans and Whites at a higher rate than Blacks and Hispanics.

• VT admitted 68% of Asian Americans and 74% of Whites, compared to 61% of Hispanics and 50% of Blacks.

• JMU admitted 79% of Whites, 72% of Asian Americans, 60% of Hispanics, and 53% of Blacks.

• GMU admitted 87% of Whites and Asian Americans, 75% of Hispanics and 68% of Blacks.

The Center’s report comes on the heels of a lawsuit against Harvard’s admission process alleging that the university discriminated against Asian applicants. In that case, the court ruled that Harvard’s use of affirmative action policy did not discriminate against Asian Americans.
The plaintiffs in that suit, Students for Fair Admissions which reportedly represents Asian students who were denied admission despite having higher test scores than Latinos and Blacks who were admitted, is appealing the ruling. It is expected that the Harvard case will wind up in the US Supreme Court.

Similar to the Virginia schools, Harvard looked at students applicants holistically and used race as one factor in determining a student’s application.

“Virginia’s public universities are perhaps the country’s most selective among those still allowed to use racial and ethnic preferences,” President Roger Clegg wrote in an email to the campus community. 

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