by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
For decades, the population of Asian-American students at Harvard University has remained suspiciously stagnant, even as the general population of Asian Americans has exploded. Asian Americans tend to have higher rates of academic achievement — standardized-test scores, GPAs — than other racial groups. While the Asian-American undergraduate population at elite universities that do not take race into account in admissions has soared since the 1990s, it has hovered around 20 percent at Ivy League schools, which do consider race. Against the notion that Asian Americans are a monolith of high achievers, it should be noted that the term denotes a heterogeneous collection of people from all sorts of backgrounds. But the substance of this issue is not complicated: If not for discrimination on the basis of race, there would be far more Asian undergraduates at elite universities than there currently are.
Now a group called Students for Fair Admissions is suing Harvard, alleging that it engages in unconstitutional racial discrimination against Asians in its admissions process. Last week, the plaintiffs released devastating evidence to support their claim, including an analysis of the data of 160,000 applicants conducted by Duke economist Peter Arcidiacono as well as a university review of the admissions process from 2013 that had been buried by the Harvard administration. The plaintiffs deserve to prevail in court; the grim state of affairs at Harvard is a direct consequence of the affirmative-action regime that reigns in this country.