Discriminating against Asians in college admission

If merit were the primary factor in determining admission to elite colleges and universities, Asian-American applicants would likely occupy far more seats than they do now (“The Balancing Game,” The Weekly Standard, Jun. 8).  That’s the basis for the closely watched lawsuit, Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard University.

We know that because the student body at Caltech, which does not use racial preferences, is more than 40 percent Asian-Americans.  A similar pattern is seen at Stuyvesant High School in the New York City system and at other specialized high schools there, where Asian-American students constitute 52.5 percent of enrollment.  I realize that merit alone has never been the sole factor in determining admission.  Colleges have long granted preference to legacies, athletes and others.  But two wrongs don’t make a right.  Setting a higher bar for Asian-Americans makes a mockery of fairness.

I was reminded once again about this after reading the latest issue of The Concord Review.  Of the 11 high school students whose work was published in this highly regarded journal, five were Asians.  They all demonstrated impressive research and writing ability.  Will Fitzhugh, the editor and publisher, makes no apology for relying strictly on merit in deciding who makes the cut.  Nor should he.  Students deserve the exposure they get because they’ve earned it.  I think the same thing should hold true for colleges and universities.  Let’s see what the outcome of the Harvard lawsuit is.

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