Affirmative Action Polices Challenged, Ivy League Taking A Stand

Ivy League college presidents are defending their use of affirmative action during the admissions process, stating that is “necessary” in the hiring process. Affirmative action is back in the news again after Donald Trump’s administration decided to investigate complaints against Harvard University that affirmative action was discriminating against Asian students.

Just last year, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the University of Texas after Abigail Fisher, a white woman, claimed discrimination after her rejection based on affirmative action.

This time, it’s Asian students who are feeling the sting, as they are now siding with conservative whites who have been against affirmative action since its early days. In 2014, Asian-American groups brought allegations against Harvard University after they limited the admissions of Asian students. The school favored Hispanics and African Americans in their admissions selections to create a “racially balanced” student body.

Melodie Jackson, a Harvard spokesperson, stated that Harvard is committed to equal standards in admissions policies.

“Harvard’s admissions process considers each applicant as a whole person, and we review many factors.”

The president of Princeton University has defended the school’s use of affirmative action in the admissions process. In an interview conducted with CBS News, Princeton President Chris Eisgruber insists that a “race-conscious” approach is necessary.

Princeton President with Chris Christie in 2013

“We want students to go out in the world and have an impact in a multicultural and diverse society and to produce those kinds of students; we need to have a diverse student body on this campus.”

He also addressed concerns that race alone is a factor in college admissions. Michael Wang, an Asian student with a 2230 SAT, perfect ACT score, and a 4.67 GPA applied to every Ivy League university in 2012, but he was only accepted to one. He believed things would be different had he been African American or Hispanic.

On the other hand, the New York Times reported that Jonathan Haynes, an African-American student, stated that others told him that the only reason he was going to Princeton was that he was black. Eisgruber insists that race is just one, but one important, factor in considering admission to Princeton.

“…I can guarantee that all of our students are held to an equal standard. It’s tough to get into Princeton, and it’s tough to get into other Ivy colleges regardless of what group you’re from, but everybody gets a fair shake.”

Colleges are not secretive about taking race into account during admissions processes. Many admissions departments state that academics are not the only factor considered in college admissions. However, it seems that affirmative action, while being advantageous for some, inadvertently leaves others behind.

Low-income students are also sought by admissions officers to achieve diverse freshman classes. Public universities cannot use race as a factor in admissions policies. They substitute income levels for race, hoping to make up the difference. Private schools like Princeton and Harvard openly stand by their policies of using race as an admissions factor.

diverse students on ivy league campus

The group that brought allegations against Harvard University calls itself Students for Fair Admissions. In its complaint, the group stated that Harvard was using similar techniques to cap Asian students that it previously used on Jewish students. However, Harvard recently announced that its upcoming freshman class is majority non-white, with Asians making up the highest minority percentage.

[Featured Image by Elise Amendola/AP Images]