End Racial Preferences at Colleges?
A lawsuit against Harvard. The outcome could affect the future of affirmative action. Harvard has been sued for illegally discriminating against Asian-Americans. The legal action forced the school to make its admissions data public for the first time. That did reveal that Asian applicants must score 22 points higher on the SAT than whites, 63 points higher than blacks. Nevertheless, Harvard denies it discriminates against Asian Americans or any other group. Harvard says, race is just one factor among many. That is just a lie. Lee Cheng supports the students suing the school. Harvard didn’t just use race as one of many factors. It was the determinative factor. Harvard says many Americans of Asian descent don’t get in because they score lower in personal attributes. Harvard rated Asian Americans on personality, right, on subjective factors like likability and courage lower. This is because Asian Americans are boring little grade grubbers. They just focus on getting good grades and good test scores. I can categorically say that’s bullshit. If you only look at grades and test scores, it looks like a lot of discrimination against Asians. Economist Harry Holzer, who went to Harvard, defends the school. Asians are not interesting? They don’t have interesting qualities? The personal ratings reflect a wide range of characteristics. Now it’s possible. It’s possible that some of that is anti-Asian bias, but you certainly can’t prove that. I don’t think they’re discriminating against Asians but I assume they’re discriminating for blacks and Latinos because there’s been a history of discrimination. I wouldn’t label it discrimination. I would label it as leveling the playing field. Isn’t that discrimination? No, no, it’s, it’s race conscious assistance and when you have a long history of discrimination based on race, you have to take race into account. Hasn’t Harvard, like lots of other schools, been deceitful about what they’re doing? They basically lied for years. I don’t know if they were lying, they were putting their own spin. This case is expected to get to the Supreme Court, and the new court may ban racial preferences. If that happens, you’ll see a large increase in the white student population, and you see a precipitous decline in the black and Latino student population, about 50%. 50% decline in those of color. Harvard would be a less interesting place if that happens. There are many, many, different ways to achieve diversity without discriminating against Asian Americans. The reality is that race-focused affirmative action helps rich people. Seventy percent of the students of every ethnic group at Harvard come from the top 20 percent of family income. I think It’s okay that some of the minorities admitted under affirmative action come from higher income families. Race in America matters, at any level of income. The groups that are harmed the most are actually poor whites and poor Asians. Cheng is passionate about ending racial preferences because when he was in the 8th grade, he applied to San Francisco’s Lowell High School. I was just shocked when I found out I had to score higher than kids of any other ethnic group because I’ve just taken civics. I was just taught in civics and history that in America everybody was supposed to be equal under the law. Lowell High School excels in everything from music to math. Cheng got in to that high school, but – The kids who were negatively affected were the kids of the dishwashers and the seamstresses who lived in Chinatown, who were very poor. Cheng later went to Harvard. He became a lawyer and successfully sued San Francisco over its race-based preferences. We got rid of the quotas in San Francisco. You Asians, we white people. We’re doing well in America. We don’t need extra help, but some other groups do, and there’s a history of nasty discrimination against them. Isn’t it Harvard’s job to try to make up for some of that? The right path out of the history of discrimination against individuals based on race is not more discrimination based on race. I have three kids, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to not fight very, very hard to make sure that they don’t get treated as second-class citizens in the land in which they were born.