Days after the Supreme Court heard arguments to throw out affirmative action in college admissions, the debate is intensifying about whether Asian American students benefit from the race conscious program.
Past Supreme Court decisions allowed colleges to use race in admissions as long as they did not use quotas or give benefits to applicants based on race, according to PBS.
For Asian American students, this has become a topic of discussion about whether affirmative action policies help or hurt them.
Along with other Asian American students from UNC, freshman Christina Huang was on the steps outside the Supreme Court on Monday. Huang told North Jersey.com that she would not be at the school if not for affirmative action. She added that it was not true that affirmative action hurts Asians.
“Affirmative action is helping all of us,” she said to North Jersey. “We need students of color working together to build a better country.”
However, it is no secret that attending an elite university means competing for limited spots. Rutgers University sophomore Jaden Choi told North Jersey that there is an “Asian penalty” when applying to more “selective” colleges.
During the trial, The Hill reported that while Asians scored higher than Whites on academics and extracurriculars, and similar to Whites on recommendations, they scored lower on personality and much lower on athletics based on Harvard’s standards.
According to Harvard, its admissions process rates an applicant on academics, extracurriculars, athletics, recommendations and personality. Each rating is combined into an overall rating that can then consider race.
A 2018 report on Harvard admissions stated, “Despite being more academically qualified than the other three major racial/ethnic groups (Whites, African Americans, and Hispanics), Asian American applicants have the lowest admissions rates.”
A 2009 National Study of College Experience, led by Espenshade and Radford showed that an Asian student needed to score 140 SAT points higher than Whites, 320 SAT points higher than Hispanics and 450 SAT points higher than African Americans.
According to Justice Gorsuch, Asian applicants may also be told by college counselors to hide their race when applying for college.
“They’re creating a discrimination to overcome another discrimination,” Choi said to North Jersey. “Can you really say that’s equity and inclusion?”
Bridgewater resident June Wang is an immigrant from China with a 17-year-old son who is now applying to colleges. Wang told North Jersey that the problem is that admissions officers see Asians as a monolith.
They tend to have the same hobbies, like tennis and violin, and the same high test scores. So the students are all lumped into one pile, Wang told North Jersey.
Others like Montclair mom Amber Reed, an adoptee originally from Korea, support affirmative action but believe there should be more admissions officers from diverse backgrounds who understand minorities.
Reed told North Jersey that she thinks Asians are being used as a tool by White conservatives to drive a wedge between communities of color.
So, is there an end to affirmative action admission policies? U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts did not see how there could be an end to it.
“Your position is that race matters because it’s necessary for diversity, which is necessary for the sort of education you want,” Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts said during the trial. “You’re always going to have to look at race, because you say race matters to give us the necessary diversity.”
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