Yesterday Bloomberg published an article by the Physicist Stephen Hsu calling for more transparency in the college admissions process. Hsu takes the opportunity provided by a recent investigation by the U.S. Department of Education into anti-Asian discrimination in undergraduate admissions by Harvard and Princeton to argue that we won’t be able to get a good sense of whether or not discrimination is occurring, particularly as most colleges use “holistic admissions,” without a general commitment to transparency by the higher education community.
“It’s a common belief among Asian-American families that their children are held to higher academic standards than college applicants from other ethnic groups,” Hsu claims, but then goes on to make an argument against using race as a factor in admissions, regardless of whether or not Asian-Americans are, in fact, being discriminated against: “It is terrible corrosive to use race as an important factor in what are superficially (disingenuously?) described as meritocratic evaluations. Perhaps the most objectionable outcome is to produce a distribution of students on campus whose intellectual strength is strongly correlated to their race.”
Race, meritocracy, and affirmative action are all sensitive subjects, but the discrimination Asians may (or may not) be facings is an under-explored aspect of the issue, and further investigations may strengthen the “anti-affirmative action” case.