Jason Riley, Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2017
Shortly after the Supreme Court’s dispiriting decision last year in Fisher v. University of Texas, which upheld the use of racial preferences in college admissions, Gallup released some encouraging poll results. More than 6 out of 10 white, black and Hispanic respondents said they disagreed with the ruling.
But the Gallup poll also illustrates how our national discussion of racial preferences in higher education has gotten so dated. Nowhere mentioned in the survey — and only glancingly referenced in the Fisher majority opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy — are Asian-Americans, though they are the country’s fastest-growing racial group and have become increasingly fed up with their treatment at elite colleges.
“The old paradigm of affirmative action being about white versus black has been completely upended,” says Edward Blum of Students for Fair Admissions, a group that opposes racial preferences.
In 2006 Jian Li filed a complaint with the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights after he was denied admission to Princeton University. Mr. Li, who emigrated from China at age 4, had a perfect score on the SAT and graduated in the top 1% of his high school class. He alleged that Princeton violated civil-rights laws banning discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin. The complaint was initially rejected, but Mr. Li appealed and the government reopened the investigation in 2008. Seven years later, in 2015, the Obama administration, which strongly supported the use of racial preferences in college admissions and obviously took its sweet time reviewing Mr. Li’s case, issued a report exonerating Princeton.
Last year Mr. Blum’s organization filed a public records Freedom of Information Act request with the Education Department to gain access to the same documents that the federal government used to clear Princeton of any wrongdoing.
Concerned that the government was finally going to fulfill the FOIA request, Princeton sued the Education Department on March 17 to block the release of the admissions documents.
What really concerns Princeton is a potential discrimination lawsuit. What ought to concern the rest of us is the apparent determination of elite colleges to punish Asians students for their academic success. Asians have long been the forgotten victims of liberal affirmative-action schemes, subject to unwritten “just for Asian” admissions standards that recall the treatment of Jews in the first half of the 20th century. Princeton wants them to shut up about it. Let’s hope they don’t.