Sunday, December 04, 2011

Racism In The Ivy League

The admissions policies of our nations most elite universities are cloaked in an obscurity that hides everything except the obvious: that obscurity was devised for purposes of exclusion and continues to be used for it. The SAT exam was devised to allow those top universities to attract to talent but quickly revealed that a huge proportion of the top talent so judged was Jewish. Clearly it wouldn't do for Harvard to become Jew U, so "racial balance" (not too many Jews) became a cardinal principle.

Today the same tools are used to defend against the Asian flood. Canny students now know enough not to identify themselves as Asian on their admissions applications if they can reasonably help it. Alex Tabarrok quotes the USA Today story:

USA Today: Lanya Olmstead was born in Florida to a mother who immigrated from Taiwan and an American father of Norwegian ancestry. Ethnically, she considers herself half Taiwanese and half Norwegian. But when applying to Harvard, Olmstead checked only one box for her race: white.

“I didn’t want to put ‘Asian’ down,” Olmstead says, “because my mom told me there’s discrimination against Asians in the application process.”

Her Mom is correct:

Asian students have higher average SAT scores than any other group, including whites. A study by Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade examined applicants to top colleges from 1997, when the maximum SAT score was 1600 (today it’s 2400). Espenshade found that Asian-Americans needed a 1550 SAT to have an equal chance of getting into an elite college as white students with a 1410 or black students with an 1100.

The traditional forms of discrimination are now complicated by affirmative action, which in theory is supposed to compensate students for a disadvantaged background but now often results in discrimination not only against the children of Indian neurosurgeons but also against those of impoverished Vietnamese immigrants.