Harvard Under Fire

The Economist, November 29, 2014

In 1978 the Supreme Court, in the Bakke case, struck down racial quotas in higher education. Summing up, Justice Lewis Powell called the undergraduate admissions policy at Harvard an “illuminating example” of a better approach. The elite Ivy League institution did not reserve a specific number of places for poor minority candidates. Instead, it considered race as one of several “plus” factors in a student’s file. Thirty-six years later, Harvard’s method of reviewing candidates is being challenged in a federal district court in Boston. The plaintiffs claim its admissions policy is a quota system in disguise that discriminates against Asian-Americans.

This is the latest legal challenge to affirmative action–and the first to target a private university–hatched by Edward Blum, an activist bent on dismantling Bakke. Among other campaigns, Mr Blum’s organisation, the Project on Fair Representation, recruits students who believe they have been unfairly rejected from universities that use racial preferences.


The complaint against Harvard comes from Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), a new vehicle for Mr Blum’s campaign. The SFFA has an impressive poster-child: an unnamed offspring of Chinese immigrants with perfect scores on three college admissions tests who graduated first in his (or her) class at a competitive high school, captained the tennis team and volunteered as a “fundraiser for National Public Radio”. The student was rejected by Harvard, the complaint alleges, because the university seeks to limit the number of Asian-Americans on campus.


Mr Blum maintains, however, that Harvard’s admissions policy is “a figleaf to hide, dissemble and obfuscate racial balancing and quotas”. Although Asian-Americans made up over 27% of the applicant pool at the three most selective Ivy League colleges from 2008 to 2012, they comprised only 17-20% of the students admitted. This, the SFFA contends, constitutes “intentional discrimination” in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Mr Blum has high hopes for this legal battle. “If the case goes to the Supreme Court, he says, “we will argue that the use of race in college admissions must end.” {snip}

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  • superlloyd

    This will help to lower the number of darkies unfairly enrolled in universities at the expense of whites and asians if it gathers traction and goes all the way to its logical end.

  • DaveMed

    There’s really no reason for the continued veneration of the Ivy League schools. While they do tend to have faculty members who have contributed significantly to their respective fields, the reality is that the education one receives at Harvard really isn’t significantly superior to that one can receive at _____ State University for a fraction of the cost.

    Attending an Ivy is a signal, to be sure. But that signal is, in large part, an artifact of an age when tradition and heritage were respected. Today’s youth respect little, so I think that those schools will no longer garner the automatic respect that they once did.

    • The “beauty” of Harvard-Yale-Princeton isn’t that the actual education is much better than what one would get at double directional state university, it’s that The Right Kind Of People / The People That Matter went there.

      For example, between 1900 and 1984, the average number of Ivy League degrees per major party Presidential nominee was 0.20. Between 1988 and 2012, that statistic was 1.07.

    • anony

      It’s about superior networking. To be able to say, “I’m a Harvard grad” opens many doors. Always has, always will. Read HOW HARVARD RULES.

      • MikeofAges

        It’s not even that. It’s just simple preference in hiring even for a person who has no other entre except their resume, exacerbated by some of the onerous impacts of anti-discrimination precedents. Employers rely on the universities to administer the aptitude testing they are not allowed to administer. Beyond that, they are not even allowed to consider the issue of aptitude, as opposed to subject personal traits. But selective university preference is allowed. Be aware, also, that the selective university graduate being hired in the open labor market are not the outstanding and high ranking graduates who become the competent scholars and scientists. They are the people whose actual intellectual profile is not even as high as that of a well-above-average state college graduate. They are the people who are surfing along in the wake of their intellectual betters. Then anyone of challenges the preference they receive is subject to invidious comparisons, not to the average and below average graduates, but inappropriately to the high achieving ones.

        Don’t be born yesterday when it comes to this issue. Many of these people have to go out on the street and look for jobs just like everyone else. In the post-1970 era, it is the legal climate that grants them preference. Remember that, and act accordingly.

  • Fighting_Northern_Spirit

    A lot of the coverage of this lawsuit delves into the same arguments that Steve Farron makes in The Affirmative Action Hoax, arguments I haven’t seen in any other book. Specifically, that Harvard’s pioneering technique of avoiding discrimination accusations – by looking at the student’s overall character, experiences, etc. and ignoring test scores – began in the early 20th century as a way to exclude Jews. Now it’s used to exclude whites and Asians. Farron ventures further off into verboten territory though, because he dares to say that Asians benefit from Affirmative Action in other ways (e.g. SBA loans) and therefore the only unequivocal losers in the AA world are whites. But it’s interesting to see any of his arguments finally presented in the MSM.

  • Oil Can Harry

    The biggest lie ever told was when Harvard and other elite schools claimed they would consider the race of nonwhite applicants as “only one factor among many others”.

    That gave them cover to admit nonwhites only because of their race.

    • Tom_in_Miami

      “That gave them cover to admit nonwhites only because of their race.”

      The establishment has gotten away with this for years and it’s about time that we woke up from a bad dream. The biggest lie that has ever been foisted on an unthinking populace is the one that says that employers, schools, dispensers of scholarships, etc. consider race as only one factor of many in determining who gets the goods. In academia, when a school (for example) needs blacks or Latinos to make their institution sufficiently diverse (in skin pigmentation) color is the only qualification that matters. They turn away white students who far exceed in achievement the “minority” students who get the scholarships or admission to the school. End result? The minority student who gets into a program where everyone else had to compete academically is the least qualified student in the program and he cannot keep up with his peers so he drops out altogether. The high dropout rate is then cited as proof of discrimination against minority students. Everyone loses except the minority students who are genuinely qualified.

      • Charles Martel

        Just like cabinet positions or Supreme Court nominees. Seriously, what was Janet Reno’s primary qualification? Or Sonia Sotomayor?

  • LHathaway

    “Harvard’s pioneering technique of avoiding discrimination accusations – by looking at the student’s overall character, experiences, etc. and ignoring test scores – began in the early 20th century as a way to exclude Jews”

    What they won’t tell you is that Jews were vastly, vastly, vastly overrepresented at Universities in the East. What they will tell you is that evil whites were discriminating in the 1920’s. It was evil, then. They will use these ‘facts’, this history, as an excuse to do the same thing in the hear and now, and for all eternity, by the looks of things. They don’t do it because it was a good thing in 1920’s, but because Whites were evil then. Whites are considered evil Now. . because they are discriminating. . even at institutions that have affirmative action, especially there, the public face must be that whites are discriminating and this is wrong and evil.

  • IstvanIN

    I really think private institutions should be allowed wahtever admission standards they want, regardless of whether or not the students get federally backed student loans. None the less since the definition of public/government grows larger every day we should at least be thrown one bone: that Jews and Whites be counted as separate categories so that we get our fair share of admissions.

  • Spikeygrrl


    • Reynardine

      Social Justice Warrior. It’s a favorite game of Disingenuous White Leftists. They get all upset if you display a “microaggression” or don’t know the latest PC word for whatever the perversion du jour is.

  • Bill E. BOBB

    so if you are “blak”, it is a plus on your admission? your color is something you have no control over, so how could that possibly make you a better candidate? and besides, it sounds really RACIST.

  • Archibald_Cunningham

    Although Asian-Americans made up over 27% of the applicant pool at the
    three most selective Ivy League colleges from 2008 to 2012, they
    comprised only 17-20% of the students admitted. This, the SFFA contends,
    constitutes “intentional discrimination” in violation of Title VI of
    the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    These people supposedly arguing against racial quotas are really just arguing that the quota for their group be set higher. Asians are only 5% of the American population, yet comprised 17-20% of the students at these schools. They are actually over-represented, by this criteria.

    This is the inevitable problem with multiracial democracy. It always deteriorates into a shoving match for resources and perpetual grievance-mongering. It will never, ever, ever end. And it’s going to get worse. Much worse.

    • See The Future

      Our tax dollars are paying for our own destruction

    • LHathaway

      Nope. Once white men are denied, ‘affirmative action’, too, it will spell the beginning of the end of it for everyone else. Everyone else, for the most part, being everyone who isn’t a white male. There are limits to hypocrisy. The limits are really being stretched farther than they can go as it is.

      At some future time, as white votes become a smaller and smaller minority, these programs could return, but it wouldn’t be easy for them.

      Those 17-20% Asian students, are they American citizens? I bet most of them aren’t. They’re willing to scour the globe, leaving no stone unturned in efforts to replace white men.

    • anony

      “This is the inevitable problem with multiracial democracy. It always deteriorates into a shoving match for resources and perpetual grievance-mongering. It will never, ever, ever end. And it’s going to get worse. Much worse.”

      Your point, copied above, is precisely why my mantra has become: Separation is the only answer.

  • Rustler

    We shouldn’t support the Asians here. They have no concern whatsoever for discrimination against whites. If this lawsuit and similar ones are succesful, it will simply result in fewer white students than the already small number at these schools. They are going to clear spots for more Asians by reducing te number of Jews, blacks or Hispanics.

    • Reynardine

      Absolutely correct. We whites can do any job – from back breaking labor to designing rocket engines – which is why they’re squeezing us from both ends, giving the welfare to the blacks, manual labor to the Hispanics, and the STEM jobs to Asians.

      • Ultimate187

        Asians can do any job too. That’s irrelevant. Their fight to eliminate AA is a good one. The US founding fathers wouldn’t want it either and would be in favor of a pure meritocracy.

        • Rustler

          The founding fathers did not want Asians in America and banned Asians from citizenship. Meritocracy is not the goal, what’s good for whites is the goal.

          • Ultimate187

            The founding fathers wanted blacks in America. It’s already implicit that they didn’t make all the right choices.

        • Reynardine

          The idea is, white America doesn’t need immigration from those places. We can do it all. Asians have damn near all of Asia to go be Asian in. Importing them here doesn’t do anyone any good.

    • Ultimate187

      We should be supporting any movement to make academic admissions race blind and race neutral.

      • LHathaway

        Perhaps that’s the goal, but I disagree with the tactic. As I mentioned before, white men will have to ask for these kinds of concessions for themselves if they ever hope to see them end for everyone else.

      • Rustler

        No. That’s the failed strategy that whites have tried for decades. We want policies that are good for whites. “Colorblindness” is something only whites care about.

        • anony

          Whites need to stop being color-blind.

  • phorning

    Harvard’s endowment is 36.4 billion and growing. I don’t think they are going to burn through that anytime soon. I agree that there admissions decisions will hurt their reputation, but they aren’t going to be facing financial difficulty soon.

    • Yves Vannes

      When you embrace the SJW narrative, 36 Billion can be sucked dry within 1 generation. Don’t forget how long Harvard has been around. It took a long time to accumulate those funds.

    • Rhialto

      Agreed! Harvard’s billions will last as long as they’ll need endowing.

  • IKUredux

    If I may, I would like to propound my take on the world. To whit: White Christians are and have been, the greatest force for civilization ever known on the face of the Earth. The Jews have never fit in, no matter where they settle. Frankly, they have not always sought to fit in. When the Jews came to America, they were allowed to settle in.

    The Jews in America have always made it clear that they have a distinct attraction to and a complete revulsion of: WASPS. The WASPS of this country, having been completely brow beaten, have allowed the Jews to take over. They have taken over the heretofore WASP prep schools, and have also taken over those previous bastions of Waspdom:Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. This just begs the question: If the Jews are oh so smart, why haven’t they established top flight universities? Ohhh, is it because they have always been kicked out of every country they have occupied? They have been in America long enough to establish colleges that should rival ANY WASP college, so, why didn’t that happen? I’ll tell you why: The Jews have the biggest inferiority complex in the world, just second to the inferiority complex of the blacks.

  • Reverend Bacon

    The Economist has really suffered under knee-jerk liberal San Franciscan Mickelthwait. In the old days, they referred to “Affirmative Action” as “positive discrimination,” which had a sort of delicious irony to it.

    It’s tough to read that magazine now, because they’ve gotten so far away from “Economics” and are just another chapter of Tass.

    • MikeofAges

      Heard a guy on the radio last night who said something even I have never thought of. He said, during the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union attempted to impose their systems on each other, and both succeeded. Today, the United States lives under communism and Russia under plutocracy. Some sense to that idea, you know.

  • JohnEngelman

    Affirmative action policies violate the letter and the spirit of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    • MikeofAges

      The word “spirit” doesn’t belong in the discussion. This is a blood and iron issue. Things have to be either this way, or that way. And the issue will only be settled by brute force. That’s what Bismarck meant by “eisen und blud”. This way or that way, not interminable coffeehouse arguments and “yes, but” finger waggling. The other side understood this from the beginning, and once they got a particle of power, the used it to the max. If inclusion was the only issue we would have less to argue about, maybe little to argue about most of the time. The policies of affirmative exclusion are the issue. It’s not about who is in, it’s about who is out. That means us.

      • JohnEngelman

        The U.S. electorate responds negatively to those who use “brute force” on behalf of political issues. Violence against civil rights demonstrators gained sympathy for those demonstrators, and contributed to the passing of civil rights legislation.

        The black ghetto riots that happened from 1964 to 1968 contributed to the Republican dominance of the United States.

        In a democracy like ours violence is never advisable, nor justified. Occasionally however, a political faction needs more than a slight majority.

        • MikeofAges

          But “blood and iron” is used as a metaphor in this context. As noted, it refers to the idea there is a time when the debate over principles has to end, and thing have to be either this way or that way. This way or that way. That we have no determination to make things be our way is our undoing.

          • JohnEngelman

            Polls indicate that most Americans disagree with you about critical issues. Consequently, you better hope that the debate continues.

          • MikeofAges

            Which issues? Detail it. You’re at your discursive best right now. Or did you even read my post. I called “blood and iron” a metaphor and explained what I meant by it as a metaphor. Is that how you deal with issues, stick your finger up into the wind?

          • JohnEngelman

            There is certainly little support for secession or a white ethnostate.

  • anony

    There is one policy that would be good for all Whites, and that is an all-White country policy.

  • anony

    Why would you think such a stupid thing?

  • LHathaway

    I honestly do not understand your response to my statement. Perhaps you misunderstood my statement. I’m saying that after white men are denied, ‘affirmative action’ this is when affirmative action will begin to end for everyone else. This will end preferences policies. They might not end that day, but their days will be numbered from that point on. That’s my opinion. You’re saying that after white men are denied affirmative action, white women and Asians will still be entitled to it?