What binds today’s Asian-Americans to New York City Jews of old when it comes to Harvard and top US colleges
American colleges receiving federal funds in any guise must adhere to affirmative action strictures and produce a student body representative of the broader society (“Harvard ‘is biased against Asian-Americans’, US court is told as rejected applicants sue”, June 16).
This is difficult if the only criterion of admission is academic achievement at the secondary level and/or academic potential as revealed on tests designed for that purpose. As a consequence, we find admission protocols – especially at the most sought-after colleges – which analyse other criteria, such as musical and artistic ability, athletic prowess and community volunteering.
The latter were introduced at Harvard University almost a hundred years ago to stem the arrival of a large number of Jews from New York City, many from poor immigrant families and requiring financial aid, who achieved admission when the only criteria were related to academic performance.
Asian-Americans excel in our competitive academic environment and, like the Jews of old, are over-represented in the application process when academic criteria alone are considered. Other criteria must be applied to achieve a student body representative of our diversity, for this is felt to enhance the educational experience for all students.
This may or may not be true but, as it turns out in a massively diverse population, this is beside the point. The theory is that to strengthen the whole, certain deserving students must be sacrificed.
Paul Bloustein, Ohio