12/12/2017

Why Asians Need Affirmative Action

Editor’s Note: Samantha Wu-Georges is a sophomore studying at the University of Pennsylvania.  She is our Media Intern for the summer of 2017.

When I applied for college two years ago, my family warned me: admissions officers have higher standards for Asian applicants.  If you want a spot at a top school, they cautioned, you’re going to have to study harder, get better grades, and have higher test scores.  Turns out, they were right.  A widely publicized Princeton Study suggests that  “applicants of Asian heritage experience an apparent admissions disadvantage.”  Conversely, the data indicate that being African-American or Hispanic helps admissions chances.  However, despite being a recent member of the group that affirmative action supposedly hurts the most, I staunchly support affirmative action policies.

I don’t blame my fellow Asian students for filing complaints against university affirmative action and holistic admissions approaches.  In fact, I agree that it’s not fair to discriminate against us based on our race.  Nonetheless, consider that such policies, while highly imperfect, may be our only hope at achieving college campuses that represent the actual racial makeup of our country.  While I find the existence of race-based implicit quotas unsettling, what makes me more uncomfortable is our nation’s history of systemic racism and disadvantaging certain minorities.

People of color have historically been discriminated against in America, including Asian Americans.  Before affirmative action, Asians were excluded and can be again.  Former laws such as the Chinese Exclusion Act and Asian Exclusion Act curtailed Asian immigration and, consequently, education in this nation.  Affirmative action combats this discrimination by conferring opportunity to underprivileged students.  The policies continue to help low-income Asian Americans and Southeast Asians today.

Affirmative action protects Asians by ensuring that we are admitted to colleges at all.  We should not turn our backs on the policies that gave our community education and employment opportunities.  Instead, we should support them so that underprivileged students can continue to benefit.  As a student, I know my education is enriched by belonging to a diverse student body. College admissions offices recognize the value of including applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds–we should, too.

Note: The AAA-Fund welcomes a diversity of views and voices. In that spirit, the views expressed in this article are the author's own. Unless an article states that it was written by the AAA-Fund or its Board of Directors, it does not necessarily reflect the views of the AAA-Fund.

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