By Rich Lowry
To check or not to check the Asian box? That is the pointed choice faced by Asian-American students applying to gain admission to what are supposed to be the most tolerant places on Earth, the nation’s colleges.
The Associated Press ran a report on Asian students of mixed parentage checking “white,” if possible, on their applications to avoid outing themselves as Asians. The Princeton Review Student Advantage Guide counsels Asian-American students not to check the race box and warns against sending a photo.
In a culture that makes so much of celebrating ethnic heritage, especially of racial minorities, and that values fairness above all, Asian-American students think that they need to hide their ethnicity because the college admissions process is so unfair. If African-American motorists fear that they will be pulled over by the cops for the phantom offense of “Driving While Black,” these kids worry about what will happen to them when “Applying While Asian.”
Studies have demonstrated what every Asian parent and kid knows: Asians are discriminated against in the admissions process. The Center for Equal Opportunity, a think tank opposed to racial preferences, in a 2005 study looked at an in-state male applying to the University of Michigan who had no parental connection to the school. If he had a 1240 SAT score and a 3.2 GPA, he had a 92 percent chance of admission if black and 88 percent if Latino. If white, he had only a 14 percent chance, and if Asian, a 10 percent chance.
Thomas Espenshade, the Princeton University academic and co-author of the book “No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal,” examined applicants to elite private schools with comparable grades, scores, athletic abilities and family histories. He concluded that whites were significantly more likely to get admitted than Asians. This accounts for what must be the first mass effort of a minority group to “pass as white” since Jim Crow.
All of this is done in the name of a “diversity” of a crude, bean-counting sort. The private California Institute of Technology doesn’t use quotas; its student body is 39 percent Asian. The University of California at Berkeley is forbidden by law from using quotas; its student body is more than 40 percent Asian. Only a bigot would believe that these schools are consequently worse learning environments, or that they are places characterized by monochromatic, lock-step thinking because so many students share a broad-brush ethnic designation.
Stephen Hsu, a professor of physics at the University of Oregon and an outspoken critic of current admission practices, laments that Asians seem strangely accepting of the unfair treatment of their children. The official Asian-American groups tend to support anti-Asian quotas because they are captives of liberal orthodoxy before all else.
The Obama administration’s misnamed Justice Department has joined