Do Ivy League Colleges Have an Asian-American Quota?

Are Ivy League universities practicing discrimination against students of Asian descent? In short, yes, says Ron Unz, himself a Harvard University graduate and the publisher of The American Conservative.

In The New York Times ‘Room for Debate' he writes that just as university officials never admitted that at one time there was a "Jewish quota" in place, they're engaging in a similar type of dodge now – officially denying that a rule is in place to limit the number of high-achieving Asian-Americans enrolled while ignoring the powerful statistical proof that it exists.

Universities all over the country provide racial breakdown of their students to the Center for Education Statistics, which collects it and then posts it online. Prior to 1990, Harvard University was under investigation for allegedly discriminating against applicants of Asian-American descent, yet once the investigation was concluded, the percentage of Asian-American students admitted to the school begun to decline year-to-year.

Today about 16.5% of all students attending Harvard are Asian-American. In the years between 1990 and 2000, that number was closer to 20%.

Unz admits that the decline is small, yet it is curious in light of the fact that the college-age Asian-American population in the U.S. is actually growing. It is even more curious because the percentage of non-Hispanic whites admitted to the school was unchanged over the same period.

Thus, according to official statistics, the percentage of Asian-Americans enrolled at Harvard fell by more than 50 percent over the last two decades, while the percentage of whites changed little. This decline in relative Asian-American enrollment was actually larger than the impact of Harvard's 1925 Jewish quota, which reduced Jewish freshmen from 27.6 percent to 15 percent.

The problem is not limited to Harvard. Asian-American enrollment went on the decline over the same period at almost every other Ivy League school as well.

More suspicious still, while the decline has stopped in recent years, it appears every school accepts roughly the same percentage of Asian-Americans, which only bolsters the argument that some kind of a quota system exists.

These enrollment numbers are in stark contrasts to other prestigious but non-Ivy schools like the California Institute of Technology. CalTech's college admissions policy is very strict, yet it is entirely race-blind. According to Unz, their Asian-American enrollment numbers have grown at a roughly similar rate as the general population growth.

Some individuals have suggested that Asian-Americans no longer apply to the Ivy League in large numbers and this explains their reduced presence. The prestigious University of California system routinely releases the racial totals for its college applicants, which allows the public to examine admission rates by race. During the 1980s, Ivy League colleges sometimes did so as well, but more recently have begun keeping these figures secret. If Harvard and the other Ivy League schools simply released their racial application totals for the last 20 years, we might easily resolve the disturbing suspicion that they have quietly implemented a system of "Asian-American quotas."

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