Princeton Parody Raises Questions of Bias

Those Asian American Whiz Kids?So I just read this article in The New York Times, At Princeton, a Parody Raises Questions of [Asian-American] Bias, where essentially the article discuss the issue:

“While Asian-Americans account for 5 percent of the population in the United States, they account for greater numbers at prestigious institutions like Harvard (18 percent), Stanford (24 percent), and the University of California at Berkeley (46 percent). At Princeton, they accounted for 13 percent of undergraduates last year, and make up 14 percent of the current freshman class.” But some critics, like Mr. Li, the applicant who brought the complaint against Princeton, contend that many colleges, even those with substantial numbers of Asian-American students, deliberately hold down the number of Asian-Americans and that they should have a greater presence given their performance in high school and on standardized tests. Mr. Li, a freshman at Yale, had a perfect 2400 on the SATs, top grades at his high school in Livingston, N.J., numerous Advanced Placement courses, community service in Costa Rica, and high rankings in New Jersey’s math and physics leagues.”

I have many conflicting thoughts on this. I am proud that Asian-Americans account for only 5% of the U.S. population, but are over-represented at “elite” (and overpriced) universities. I also do believe in affirmative action for under-represented minorities. I also believe that that the sterotype of “Model Minority” does a dis-service to a wide variety of Asian-Americans (which is a VERY large tent). It is magazine covers like Time’s “Those Asian-American Whiz Kids” back in the 80s that also built the foundation for such stereotypes, as well as a 60 Minutes piece I recall, but can’t find a link on the web to.

Having been born-and-raised in Western Massachusetts with few Asian-Americans, I can say that moving to the San Francisco Bay Area eliminated any thoughts of “model minority” as I saw Asian-Americans in *all* types of jobs and professions – from doctors, lawyers, and engineers to police officers, cashiers, bank tellers, etc.

My father emigrated to the United States in the 60’s, when many well-educated Chinese and Taiwanese emigrated to the U.S. for graduate studies due to the passage of the Immigration Act of 1965 which essentially repelled the Chinese Exclusion Act. The sons & daughters of the well-educated (of any race) are more likely to be academically successful than non-“well-educated.” Thus it is no surprise that Asian-Americans 18 years later entering college would be considered “model minorities.”

HOWEVER, this does not necessarily represent every Asian-Americans’ experience!

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About John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)
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