Asian-American Students Suing Harvard Over Affirmative Action Gain Justice Department Support

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department lent its support Thursday to students suing Harvard University over affirmative action policies they claim discriminate against Asian-American applicants, in a case that could have far-reaching consequences in college admissions.

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Suzy Ryoo
Partner, Vice President of Technology & Innovation at Atom Factory & Cross Culture Ventures

This support from the Justice Department is surprising but at the same time it simply makes sense. I grew up in a community that Asian American immigrants flocked to for the excellent public school education and proximity to both LA & OC. In the span of one generation, the community became majority Asian American immigrants. Over that same time, amongst incredibly bright students we became conditioned to the fact that Harvard would systematically only accept one or two students per year from our school(s). We were told that as Asian Americans from the same community, we were competing with one another. Looking back with the context of the broader education landscape in comparison to feeder private schools, this is definitely discrimination. That said, the entire system is fundamentally and thoroughly broken, so it’s important to consider that this is only one tiny piece of a much larger and more complex puzzle.

Junta Nakai
Industry Leader at Databricks

Asian-American here probably means Chinese, Indian or Korean.

I wonder how Nepalese, Cambodian or Laotian candidates fared.

Or if they get lumped together as Asian-American.

Asia is a big and diverse place. Diversity within “Asian Americans” should also be a consideration.

Jing Cao

Gah. This really gets my goat. Agreed with Junta and Jessica on the exclusion of many Asian groups in the consideration. This whole lawsuit reeks of privileged Asians whining about going to Duke instead of Harvard — which IS in fact how it all started. For the record, Asian American households have a higher median income than that of even white households. (See my previous thoughts on this issue here: https://newspicks.us/news/687272/)

College admissions are a zero-sum game, with only a limited number of available slots. Most of those slots today go to white students. Affirmative action, while flawed, opened the door for many disadvantaged students and gave them a chance at the American Dream. The way this whole case is being set up, it’s pitting one minority group against other minority groups — letting the dominance of white admits and the real issues in education escape scrutiny.

For example, regardless of race, poor students have much less access to a good education, as well as resources necessary to making a so-called well-rounded applicant that elite colleges so desire. They often are relegated to bad schools with bad teachers, outdated learning materials, lack of budgets for extracurricular activities and “non-core” classes. Poor students are also disproportionately minorities. (Bottom five median household income households as of 2016: Salvadoran Americans, Somali Americans, Honduran Americans, Dominican Americans and Iraqi Americans. African American households — sixth from the bottom)

And yes, these students need extra help to even the playing field, to provide that equality of opportunity that has traditionally been a core value of this country.

Jessica Nish
Technology Educator

I’m tired of people from 48 countries with extremely different cultures and backgrounds being lumped into “Asian-American”. Indian people don’t have the same culture that Korean people do, nor Taiwan with Kazakhstani people, or Pakistani and Cambodian. Is anyone else tired of our white culture forcing people to be lumped into the “Asian-American” category and then making “Asian” culture mean something for all “Asians”?

Jayden Kim
Director at Korean Association of Human Resource Development

Providing minority students with a more diverse opportunity for admission can be morally acceptable. But if it goes too far, they will face strong resistance from the counterparts. #education #university #college