Unpreferred

A Chinese-American student with perfect SAT scores has filed a civil rights complaint against Princeton, saying he was rejected because of his race. Jian Li, now a Yale freshman, complains that Princeton’s admission procedures are “biased because they advantage other minority groups, namely African-Americans and Hispanics, legacy applicants and athletes at the expense of Asian-American applicants,” reports the Daily Princetonian.

Li cites a recent study conducted by two Princeton professors as evidence for his case. The study, published in June 2005, concluded that removing consideration of race would have little effect on white students, but that Asian students would fill nearly four out of every five places in admitted classes that are currently taken by African-American or Hispanic students.

Li says he’s not arguing that SAT scores should be the only basis for admission.

“Lots of things should be considered beyond that, but I don’t think race should be one of them.”

Li, who has a perfect 2400 SAT score and near-perfect SAT II scores, was rejected this past year from five of the nine universities he applied to � Princeton, Harvard, Stanford, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania � and accepted to four: CalTech, Rutgers, Cooper Union and Yale.

Li’s happy at Yale, but says it’s a question of principle.

He came to the U.S. at the age of four, so we can assume he speaks English as a second language. He did not inherit centuries of white privilege. And he resembles many other very hard-working, very successful Asian-American students.

Volokh conspirator David Bernstein believes private universities have a “right to engage in affirmative action preferences, so long as they defend such preferences as a part of an attempt to educate students in a pro-“diversity” message.”

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Comments

  1. I think that private universities should be allowed to select students any way they want, as long as they aren’t using public funds as part of the tuition (that is, the public money isn’t being used to pay for instruction). I doubt that they could get away with that, but I think that it should be allowed.

    A university populated by students who scored the best on standardized tests would be not so great, and it’s called the University of Tokyo. If you want to have a theater department, a marching band, a water polo team, and be competitive on the Putnam Exam, you can’t just select the kids that have the highest SAT and GPA scores. Selecting just the highest testing kids will reduce the number of future Nobel laureates you graduate, as well.

    That said, it’s unconscionable for schools to accept, in the name of “diversity” or sports programs, students who have no chance of graduating.

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Diversity is another way of saying Dr. King was wrong and the KKK was right.

  3. Cardinal Fang says:

    Just a quibble: If he came to the US at the age of four, we can assume he speaks English with native fluency.

    He doesn’t have much of a case. He says he was rejected in favor of athletes, black kids and legacies. And he was. Is the court going to say that Princeton isn’t allowed to admit children of alums? I doubt it.

  4. What Mr. Li is probably hoping the court will say is that since the school can’t be trusted to put the appropriate weight on unimportant differences between students during selection the university should be prohibited from using those unimprtant criteria at all. These are, after all, institutions of education and the ability of a prospective student to run fast, have the foresight to select the right parents and the right skin color has exactly what to do with that central mission? Not much.

    The courts have already placed pretty explicit limits on the criteria a privately-owned public accomadation can use to decide who will be served and who rejected. Mr. Li seems to be hoping that the university’s abuse of their discretion will rise to a level that justifies judicial restraint.

  5. Richard Nieporent says:

    Mr. Li seems to be hoping that the university’s abuse of their discretion will rise to a level that justifies judicial restraint.

    Actually if the courts practiced judicial restraint they would dismiss this lawsuit. 🙂 The fact that Mr. Li was rejected from five out of the nine schools (and 5 out of the 7 elite schools) he applied to would seem to indicate that he was completely one-dimensional and did not participate in any extra curricular activities at school.

  6. “Just a quibble: If he came to the US at the age of four, we can assume he speaks English with native fluency.”

    Correct.

  7. “The fact that Mr. Li was rejected from five out of the nine schools (and 5 out of the 7 elite schools) he applied to would seem to indicate that he was completely one-dimensional and did not participate in any extra curricular activities at school.”

    Actually, I don’t think we have enough data here to reach this conclusion.

    We do know that a superior work ethic has produced an ‘excess’ number of Asian decended applicants. The UC experience when racial quotas were banished seems to indicate that there was discrimination against Asian applicants.

  8. Walter E. Wallis says:

    why not just have athletics and band degree programs? Each program to determine the prerequisites.

  9. Actually if the courts practiced judicial restraint they would dismiss this lawsuit.

    And going one step further back, if the courts had displayed an appropriate degree of judicial restraint we wouldn’t be having this exchange. Bad law is a poor remedy for bad law and affirmative action, aka racial discrimination, is all of that.

    The fact that Mr. Li was rejected from five out of the nine schools (and 5 out of the 7 elite schools) he applied to would seem to indicate that he was completely one-dimensional and did not participate in any extra curricular activities at school.

    I don’t know. I think it could as easily, if not more easily, indicate that those elite universities didn’t have quite enough racial cannon fodder that year with which to display the broadmindedness of the institution. If the acreage of black skin isn’t sufficient, the claim to the pursuit of social equity or whatever the catch phrase of the moment happens to be, is jeaprodized. Can’t have that.

    It’s in the graduation and failure rates of affirmative action students that their value to the college is established and the cynical use to which those kids are put becomes most evident. The rate of failure of affirmative action kids is calculable, predictable and of course, much higher then kids who have the education to compete in those elite universities. So where’s the benefit to the affirmative action kids in cultivating the false belief that they’re likely to graduate when they aren’t?

    The value of diversity must be stupendous if it requires the sacrifice of hopeful but hopelessly unprepared kids.

  10. Richard Nieporent says:

    You are absolutely correct, Allan. If the elite universities really wanted minorities to succeed, it is hard to understand why they would support a policy of affirmative action that is detrimental to them. And let’s not forget that it is the same Liberal establishment that prevents minority students from getting vouchers so that they can leave failing inner city schools. It is almost as if Liberals want minorities to fail.

  11. Oh no, the intent is not to injure the people liberals claim to champion, that’s just the unfortunate but unavoidable result of liberal’s policies.

    By the way Richard, just what benefit accrues to an affirmative action student who washes out of the elite school they had precious little chance of graduating from? I can understand how a kid from the crappy end of town might be pretty excited to go to a world-class college but who benefits from admitting kids who can’t graduate? Certainly the student doesn’t benefit. Who’s that leave?

  12. Cardinal Fang says:

    The kid was rejected from Princeton, MIT, Penn, Harvard and Stanford. We can’t assume much of anything from that, other than that he’s not a super duper academic star, and he’s not a top athlete. Those colleges reject a lot of amazingly good students. He may be one dimensional, but plenty of excellent students who aren’t one dimensional are also rejected from those schools.

  13. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Has anyone done a comparison of dropouts from Ivy League schools vs grads from community colleges?
    If Ivy drags in eye candy to the detriment of that candy, shame on them. But then, if they had shame they wouldn’t be where they were.

  14. Richard Nieporent says:

    but who benefits from admitting kids who can’t graduate? Certainly the student doesn’t benefit. Who’s that leave?

    Good question Allan. I can’t understand why anyone who claims to want to benefit minorities would favor policies that hurt them. However that is exactly what they do.

  15. I can’t understand why anyone who claims to want to benefit minorities would favor policies that hurt them.

    Oh hell, that one’s easy. All you have to do is look past the window-dressing to get the clues.

    All that’s necessary is a desire to think yourself an exceptionally fine person and have sufficiently low standards of evidence.

    That’s why liberals dismiss disagreement as evidence of stupidity, insanity or evil. Having concluded that they are intelligent, sane and good, not to mention stylish, sophisticated, attractive and witty, those are the only three possibilities that explain disagreement.

    It hardly takes an intelligent, sane, good, stylish, sophisticated, attractive and witty person to form the conclusion that the opinions of people with none of those qualities are unworthy of consideration, let alone respect. Since objections to affirmative action come from exactly that source they meet with exactly that response.

    In this way you can think of yourself as generous even though the evidence shows that the people you loath are, in fact, more generous. Or dismiss without consideration the problematical aspects of policies you espouse. People you’ve already determined are less intelligent, less sane or less good then yourself are asking the questions so the questions aren’t worthy of a substantive response. If they were, you’d be asking them.

    Lewis Carroll’s White Queen was the prototypical liberal: royalty with a facility for believing six impossible things before breakfast.

  16. Richard Nieporent says:

    Thanks Allan. So it is their “moral and intellectual superiority” that makes Liberals act like uncaring fools. Maybe if they stopped patronizing minorities and demonizing conservatives they would be able to do some good. I guess I shouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen

  17. Cardinal Fang says:

    Enough with the liberal bashing.

    It may be unconscionable to admit black students who have no chance of graduating, but the schools this student was rejected from don’t do that. Here (sidebar) are the graduation rates for black students for some top schools: Harvard 95%, Princeton 93%, Stanford 89%.

    Instead of complaining about top schools, who get so many qualified applicants of all colors that everyone they admit (and virtually everyone they reject as well) could do the academic work required to graduate, we should cast a jaundiced eye on big athletic powers who admit black athletes who can’t read.

  18. Nope, it’s the assumption of moral and intellectual superiority that allows liberals to act like uncaring fools without assuming a burden of responsibility if their policies backfire. Without that responsibility an excuse is better then a solution since a solution is a tacit admission of human fallability.

    Maybe if they stopped patronizing minorities and demonizing conservatives they would be able to do some good.

    I believe succumbing to leftiosity isn’t some much an act of volition as it is the inability to resist a bargain.

    The attraction of effort-free intellectual superiority and courage-free moral superiority is very strong. How could it not be? You can enjoy the illusion that you’re fighting for the underdog without any of the associated danger. Your bumper-sticker PhD is an assurance of intellectual accomplishment without all that tedious study, research and criticism. That’s a deal that’s to good to be true and it is.

    So lefties aren’t going to stop patronizing minorities because when you’ve got pearls, albiet someone else’s, you need swine to cast them before and they’re not going to stop villifying conservatives because they need someone to be better and smarter than.

    Cardinal Fang wrote:

    Enough with the liberal bashing.

    Sorry, I haven’t filled my quota yet.

    It may be unconscionable to admit black students who have no chance of graduating, but the schools this student was rejected from don’t do that.

    Well, just because the it would be unconscionable doesn’t mean schools wouldn’t do it despite they’re claims to the contrary.

    Here (sidebar) are the graduation rates for black students for some top schools: Harvard 95%, Princeton 93%, Stanford 89%.

    Pardon me for being a bit skeptical of the figures but I’m having a “Mike in Texas” moment.

    To be a bit more blunt, the figures are bullshit and obviously so.

    What does Harvard, Princeton and Stanford know that the historical black colleges and universities can’t seem to understand? Why aren’t these other schools, the ones with lower affirmative action student graduation rates, sniffing around Harvard and Stanford trying to figure out how they pull off their miracle and why aren’t Harvard and Stanford trying to help those schools learn the secret of sky-high affirmative action student graduation rates? How are the stratospheric graduation rates arrived at? What are the measurement/identification criteria and what’s the source of the data? Is the source data independently verifiable? Why are graduation rates aggregated school-wide and divided along exclusively racial lines? Mightn’t it be nice to know whether the graduation rates correlate to particular degree programs?

    And there are bunches more questions that an article, and a claim, like that inspires. I’ll give credence to these claims when some of those questions get answered.

  19. Cardinal Fang says:

    What do Harvard, Princeton and Stanford know that the historical black colleges and universities can’t seem to understand?

    Harvard, Princeton and Stanford admit the cream of the crop. They admit the best students: the best white ones and the best black ones. That is their “secret,” although it’s no secret to most people. It should be no surprise that the best students work hard and graduate.

    Historically black colleges have a more open acceptance policy. They admit students with less stellar qualifications. No surprise, then, that some of those students struggle.

    Probably those elite colleges do publish graduation rates broken down in other ways– I didn’t look– but when a school’s graduation rate is so high (white students at those schools graduate at an even higher rate) no breakdown is going to give much more information.