HomeCommunity IssuesMost Asians support affirmative action, but not in college

Most Asians support affirmative action, but not in college

By Randall Yip, AsAmNews Executive Editor

A survey of 7,000 Asian adults found a majority of Asian Americans think affirmative action is a good thing. Yet an overwhelming majority disagree that race should be a factor in deciding admission into a university.

The poll released Thursday by the Pew Research Center says 53% of Asian Americans describe affirmative action as a “good thing.” 19% consider it a “bad thing” and 27% “don’t know.”

Support among the various Asian subgroups ranges from a high of 60% among Indian Americans and 57% Filipino Americans to a low of 45% among Chinese Americans and 48% Vietnamese Americans.

“[W]e need a seat at the table. … I mean, even as far as I know, Asian Americans, Filipino Americans have the lowest voter count, and so without having a seat at the table, like how are we going to be heard? So yeah, I mean, I’m down with affirmative action,” said a Filipino man in his 40’s to the researchers.

“Well, I always feel a little mixed about it. I think there are people that cannot advocate for themselves that it probably has helped, but I think it also has hindered those individuals that have either accomplished a lot on their own because people make an assumption that they got helped or that you’re part of a quota,” said a Japanese women in her 60’s.

Support for affirmative action among U.S.-born Asian Americans is slightly higher than that of immigrants, 56% to 52%.

Pew conducted the survey in six languages between July 5, 2022 and January 27, 2023 with a margin of error of 2.1%.

The graphic shows that 53% of Asian Americans surveyed by Pew think affirmative action is a "good thing"
PEW Research Center

The release of the poll conducted both online and by mail coincides with a decision expected from the U.S. Supreme Court early this summer in the cases of Students for Fair Admissions vs Harvard and Students for Fair Admission vs the University of North Carolina.

Conservative Ed Blum argues that affirmative action in college admission discriminates against Whites and Asian Americans.

An overwhelming majority of Asian Americans surveyed do not think race should be a factor when deciding student enrollment.

Only 21 percent think race should be a consideration in college admissions.

Most think high school grades, standardized tests and community service should be bigger factors.

Pew Research Center

Sally Chen of Chinese for Affirmative Action in San Francisco was a student at Harvard when the case was going through the federal courts. She testifed in favor of Harvard’s admission policy.

“I think there’s confusion that students can get in solely on the basis of race,” she told AsAmNews during a phone interview. She described college admissions as a “confusing and anxiety-inducing process. There s confusion about what these institutions are doing wth this information.”

Phil Wong of the New York Chapter of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance agrees.

“We’ve seen the data,” said Phil Wong, the president of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance. “Asian Americans are being turned away when they have the grades, they have the test scores. They are being turned away for other races,” he told Fox News.

Each chapter of CACA may have differing views on the issues. An effort to reach the national office was unsuccessful and a past president of CACA told AsAmNews he is not aware if the national office has a stance on affirmative action. Efforts to reach national president Melanie Chan were unsuccessful.

Interestingly, Black respondents to the poll also overwhelmingly rejected race as a consideration for college admissions. 71 percent of blacks polled said it should not be considered.

Pew graphic shows only 21% of Asians polled think race should be considered in college admissions
Pew Research Center

None of this surprises Chen of CAA.

“When you lead with the values and what the programs are for, you see support and that’s consistent when we want to help all communities to be able to succeed,” she said.

Neil Ruiz of Pew acted as lead researcher with assistance from Hannah Klein, Ziyao Tian and Mark Hugo Lopez. You can read the full report here.

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.


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