Asian American Students Face Racism Within Ivy League Schools

Asian American Students Face Racism Within Ivy League Schools

On Sunday October 14, 2018, leaders and representatives of Asian-American communities across the nation heal a mass rally at the Copley Square in Boston to support SFFA’s (Students for Fair Admissions) lawsuit against Harvard University and to protest Harvard’s anti-Asian discrimination in admissions. This historical event is hosted by Asian American Coalition for Education (AACE) and other partnering organizations listed below.

It was one of the largest demonstration by Asian Americans for equal education rights, “Rally for the American Dream—Equal Education Rights for All”. Attracting thousands in turnout and featuring inspirational speeches from prominent leaders in this anti-discrimination movement such as Edward BlumYukong ZhaoLee ChengStanley Ng, Shiva Ayyadurai, SB Woo, and Vijay Jojo Chokalingam. Speakers also included representatives of Asian-American students at various educational levels from all over the country who voiced their opinions on the Harvard case and the role of race in college admissions.

On August 30, the Department of Justice chose to side with a coalition of Asian-American students who sued Harvard University, alleging that the university was discriminating against applicants based on race. The coalition argued that Harvard was ranking Asian-American applicants lower on applications in personality traits such as like-ability, resulting in fewer Asian-Americans being accepted into Harvard.

Harvard has long used race in the admissions process as part of a “holistic” review of a student applicant. The school has denied using racial quotas, but the plaintiffs argued the number of Asian-Americans accepted would be higher if race were not used as a factor. In fact, according to the lawsuit, the Asian-American population would“have risen to more than 26 percent.” The Justice Department, in its press release, agreed that Harvard “failed to show that it does not unlawfully discriminate against Asian Americans.”

Asian-Americans occupy a strange sphere. We’re used by some on the Right to showcase the model minority, which is a minority group that is better off than other minorities. We’re used to demonstrate that racism is nonexistent because, on average, Asian-Americans earn more money than whites and generally perform better than other minorities in education measurements. But this allows those same people to justify scorning Hispanic and black communities who have not reached the same status as Asian-Americans.

This is why the racism debate that’s centered around schooling and the Ivy League admission process is so contentious. There is no doubt that Asian-Americans are being discriminated against when it comes to race-based admissions process that are in “favor” of African-Americans. But it’s also true that African-Americans and Hispanics have faced struggles that most Asian-Americans will not face such as mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline. But it still feels wrong to give in to a narrative that discriminates wholesale against an entire race merely because we have done well for ourselves in America.

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Ivy Heffernan

Ivy Heffernan, student of Economics at Buckingham University. Junior Analyst at HeffX and experienced marketing director.

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