Search This Blog

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Asian Americans and Affirmative Action

Previous posts have discussed the role of affirmative action in civil rights policy.  Inside Higher Ed reports on a development in the Fisher case:
A brief filed Tuesday with the U.S. Supreme Court seeks to shake up the legal and political calculus of a case that could determine the constitutionality of programs in which colleges consider the race or ethnicity of applicants. In the brief, four Asian-American organizations call on the justices to bar all race-conscious admissions decisions, arguing that race-neutral policies are the only way for Asian-American applicants to get a fair shake.
Much of the discussion of the case has focused on policies that help black and Latino applicants. And the suit that has reached the U.S. Supreme Court was filed on behalf of a white woman, Abigail Fisher, who was rejected by the University of Texas at Austin.
But the new brief, along with one recently filed on behalf of Fisher, say that the policy at Texas and similar policies elsewhere hurt Asian-American applicants, not just white applicants. This view runs counter to the opinion of many Asian-American groups that have consistently backed affirmative action programs such as those in place at Texas.
The brief filed Tuesday on behalf of Asian-American groups Tuesday focused less on the Texas admissions policy than on the consideration of race generally in college admissions. "Admission to the nation’s top universities and colleges is a zero-sum proposition. As aspiring applicants capable of graduating from these institutions outnumber available seats, the utilization of race as a 'plus factor' for some inexorably applies race as a 'minus factor' against those on the other side of the equation. Particularly hard-hit are Asian-American students, who demonstrate academic excellence at disproportionately high rates but often find the value of their work discounted on account of either their race, or nebulous criteria alluding to it," says the brief.
It was filed on behalf of the 80-20 National Asian-American Educational Foundation, the National Federation of Indian American Associations, the Indian American Forum for Political Education, the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. (The latter group focuses on discrimination against Jewish Americans, and the brief argues that today's admissions policies have the same impact on Asian-American applicants as previous generations' policies had on Jewish applicants.)