Wesley Yang writes in the NYT:
At the time that she was deposed, Ms. Pedrick did not know that the Harvard admissions office consistently gave Asian-American applicants low personality ratings — the lowest assigned collectively to any racial group. She did not know that Harvard’s own Office of Institutional Research had found that if the university selected its students on academic criteria alone, the Asian share of the Harvard student body would leap from 19 percent to 43 percent. She did not know that though Asians were consistently the highest academically performing group among Harvard applicants, they earned admission at a rate lower than any other racial group between 2000 and 2019.
This is quite extraordinary. Asians would make up 43% of Harvard if admittance was done just on academic criteria. But instead Harvard positively discriminates against Asians so there aren’t too many of them.
Earlier this month, we learned that a review of more than 160,000 individual student files contained in six years of Harvard’s admissions data found that Asians outperformed all other racial groups on every measure of academic achievement: grades, SAT scores and the most AP exams passed. They had more extracurricular activities than their white counterparts. They were rated by interviewers who had met them as virtually on par with their white counterparts in their personal qualities. Yet Harvard admissions officers, many of whom had never met these applicants, scored them collectively as the worst of all groups in the one area — personality — that was subjective enough to be readily manipulable to serve Harvard’s institutional interests.
So they mark Asian students down on personality grounds to stop so many of them attending Harvard. Imagine the outcry if they did this to other minorities.
“Asian-American applicants receive a 2 or better on the personal score more than 20% of the time only in the top academic index decile. By contrast, white applicants receive a 2 or better on the personal score more than 20% of the time in the top six deciles,” wrote Mr. Arcidiacono. “Hispanics receive such personal scores more than 20% of the time in the top seven deciles, and African Americans receive such scores more than 20% of the time in the top eight deciles.”
Even if the very worst stereotypes about Asians were true on average, it beggars belief that one could arrive at divergences as dramatic as the ones Mr. Arcidiacono documents by means of unbiased evaluation.
Mr. Arcidiacono found that an otherwise identical applicant bearing an Asian-American male identity with a 25 percent chance of admission would have a 32 percent chance of admission if he were white, a 77 percent chance of admission if he were Hispanic, and a 95 percent chance of admission if he were black.
Now even if you believe in positive discrimination in favour of ethnic minorities against white privileged students, how do you justify Asian minority students being treated even worse than white students?
Harvard has been here before. “To prevent a dangerous increase in the proportion of Jews, I know at present only one way, which is at the same time straightforward and effective,” wrote A. Lawrence Lowell, Harvard’s president in the 1920s, “and that is a selection by a personal estimate of character on the part of the Admission authorities, based upon the probable value to the candidate, to the College and to the community of his admissions.”
Those who want to discriminate usually find a way to do so. Lowell managed to reduce the Jewish population of Harvard from 28% to 10%.
Harvard’s lawyers will soon tell the highest court in the land that Casey Pedrick’s Asian students are less respected because they are less likable, less courageous, and less kind than all other applicants. The university has decided that this is necessary for the greater good. The reality is that it is a carefully considered act of slander.
Harvard are in a bind. They can’t admit they try to reduce the number of Asian students, which forces them to then argue that Asian applicants have much worse personalities.