CounterCurrent: Week of 1/23
Three weeks into January, the spring semester is now in full swing on most campuses. Questions still remain about the shape the semester will take—especially for those who have found themselves in Zoom classrooms yet again. But for the most part, students and faculty across the country are back to the grindstone (and perhaps counting the days until summer break).
For college applicants, the start of the semester brings with it a different type of waiting. After spending months working on application materials, there is now nothing left to do but watch as the admissions decisions roll in. National College Decision Day is on May 1st, but schools will send out acceptances and rejections in waves before then.
Unfortunately for Asian-American applicants, racial preferences in higher education mean the deck is stacked against them from the start—and it’s been that way for a long time. Colleges and even high schools across the country have been openly working to decrease the number of Asian Americans walking their halls for years now.
Why do I bring this up again? Because the injustice these students face is a perennial issue, and the injury deepens every semester that discriminatory admissions policies remain in place. But also because there are several new developments that suggest the regime of racial preferences in academia may be on the verge of collapse—or at least, it’s on significantly shakier ground than we’ve seen in some time.
Last month, National Association of Scholars Communications & Research Associate David Acevedo wrote to you in these pages about the Students for Fair Admissions’ (SFFA) lawsuits against the University of North Carolina and Harvard. Despite hard evidence that both schools were engaging in blatant racial discrimination, lower courts ruled in favor of the university in both cases, arguing that their “holistic” admissions processes satisfied tests established by the Supreme Court. Their decisions relied on two primary cases: Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978) and Grutter v. Bollinger (2003). Together, these cases upheld the use of racial preferences in admissions provided the process is “narrowly tailored” to achieve “the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.” Undeterred, SFFA responded by appealing the cases to the Supreme Court (the NAS submitted amicus briefs supporting SFFA in both the UNC and Harvard appeals).
In spite of the Biden administration’s brief urging the Court to dismiss the cases and leave the race-based policies untouched, SCOTUS announced yesterday that it will hear challenges to both UNC and Harvard’s admissions policies. The two cases will be combined into one case in which the Court will formally reconsider its ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger. If the Court overturns Grutter, colleges across the country will be forced to revise their race-based admissions policies or else face legal challenges of their own.
The announcement comes at a time when admissions officials are more brazen than ever about the discriminatory motivations behind their decisions. Just this month, school board members in Fairfax County—home to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, the top-performing public high school in the nation—openly admitted that their new admissions policy was designed to target Asian students. Board members Abrar Omeish and Stella Pekarsky exchanged the following damning text messages about the new policy:
Pekarsky: “It will whiten our schools and kick [out] our Asians. How is that achieving the goals of diversity?”
Omeish: “I mean there has been an anti asian feel underlying some of this, hate to say it lol.”
Wenyuan Wu, executive director of the Californians For Equal Rights Foundation, catalogs “the nonchalant bigotry of the establishment educrats” in this week’s featured article. She lays out both the quantitative evidence and the first-person testimony that demonstrates the widespread discrimination against Asians in American higher education. “Anti-racist discrimination,” she reminds us, “is not a victimless offense.” Wu continues:
A glaring skeleton in the closet of American education is its intentional and long-established discrimination against Asian Americans, both in college admissions and in access to quality K-12 education. …
Like a parasite overtaking its host, the woke dogma of diversity, equity and inclusion has operated through unjustifiable penalties against an inherently diverse and dynamic racial minority group. ‘Give us more diversity, and just remember: we want fewer Asians because their statistically significant excellence in academics insults the progressive pursuit of mediocrity. Also, their non-Western faces don’t enhance diversity.’
The Supreme Court has propped up racial discrimination in this country for over four decades. It’s time for a new ruling to turn the tide.
Until next week.
CounterCurrent is the National Association of Scholars’ weekly newsletter, written by Communications Associate Marina Ziemnick. To subscribe, update your email preferences here.
Image: Adam Szuscik, Public Domain