These Asian Americans Struggling to Destroy Affirmative Action Are Badly Misguided – Chicago Sun-Times | Team Cansler

None of the Generation X Indians I grew up with went to an Ivy League university for their undergraduate degree.

Many were academically gifted. You just didn’t apply. Our immigrant parents wanted to keep a close eye on us, so we just filled out college applications at local schools.

Northwestern University, along with the University of Chicago, has become our gold standard for academic achievement. It was a flawed mindset as there are so many other excellent schools including the University of Illinois at Chicago.

My older sister was accepted into Northwestern but chose not to enroll to save my parents from paying annual tuition, which was about $11,000 at the time.

My brother was shocked that he had made it and eventually graduated from NU a few years later. My younger sister didn’t bother and went to UIC.

When I tried to join the Northwestern class in 1993, I got the dreaded flimsy envelope in the mail. I wasn’t depressed. Much smarter students in my class also got rejection letters, and I became a wildcat in grad school after following my older sister to Loyola University.

I only felt offended by Northwestern when it turned down my eldest niece and summarily put my eldest nephew on its waiting list.

Ayana was also rejected by her dream school on the east coast. Zain also didn’t get into the West Coast university he had set his heart on. Both ended up happily at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

But her experience solidified how the college admissions process can be a cutthroat for even the best high school students in the country, which, at the risk of sounding like a boastful aunt, my niece and nephew were.

Many young Asian Americans, including Indians, will tell you that the odds are against them. This is not a track. Higher rates of Asian American students don’t get into these selective colleges because there is a higher proportion of Asian Americans applying, Georgetown University’s Center on Education and Workforce researchers found last year. Asians make up less than 6% of the total US population but make up 20% of the student body at top universities. We are also “overrepresented” in adult education centres.

I can understand that these statistics offer little comfort to teenagers who struggle in high school only to be turned away by admissions officers. What I cannot understand is the Asian-American contingent that has joined with right-wing legal strategist Edward Blum to dismantle affirmative action in higher education that would harm prospective Black, Hispanic, Native American, and many Asian students.

While overall enrollment for Asian Americans at select colleges would increase by a meager 2% based on test scores alone, 21% of Asian Americans admitted under the holistic system would lose, the Georgetown study showed.

Nine states, including California and Michigan, have already ended race-based college admissions. The rest of the country may soon be forced to follow suit, based on recent arguments presented to the mostly conservative US Supreme Court in the Students for Fair Admissions cases against Harvard and the University of North Carolina.

A lightbulb went out in Blum’s head after his latest attempt to crush affirmative action failed when he recruited a white woman who didn’t get to the University of Texas at Austin to sue the school.

“I needed Asian plaintiffs,” said Blum, a white man, aware that many Asian Americans have had complaints about the college admissions process for years.

They just didn’t publicly accuse black and other brown students of stealing college places from their own and white students until Blum, who runs the SFFA, emerged.

Shamefully, the SFFA crowd remains silent about how white students disproportionately benefit from legacy admissions to the detriment of all black students, including Asian Americans, whose predecessors rose up with others to combat systemic racism.

Most of us stay in this fight. According to a recent poll of Asian American registered voters, nearly 70% of Asian Americans support affirmative action.

Ultimately, if fairness is the goal, many of us must stop fueling elitism by equating admission to highly selective universities with talent and success, said Kevin Kumashiro, an education policy expert and former dean of the School of Education at the University of San francisco .

And we must keep pushing for the democratization of the system to ensure all students have access to quality education, Kumashiro said.

There is undoubtedly anti-Asian prejudice – and prejudice against all people of color and other marginalized communities – can exist in the college admissions process, as well as in the wider society.

Seventy-one percent of the country’s college advisors are white, which begs the question of why those tasked with creating diverse campuses are themselves a homogenous bunch.

But eliminating affirmative action is not the answer and will only push the nation further down the abyss of “old school” racial inequality.

Rummana Hussain is a columnist and a member of the editorial board of The Sun-Times.

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