cruset america's next ceiling: the bamboo


    New York

    'Schools where admission is purely through a test, like the elite public New York City high school Stuyvesant, often have large percentages of Asian-Americans. The University of California at Berkeley and Los Angeles are more than half Asian. That doesn’t help them integrate effectively, to pierce what some call the bamboo ceiling in the corporate and political worlds.'

    Yes, students, including Asian-Americans, benefit from diversity. But how is a student body compromised of more than 50% Asian-Americans less diverse than one of more than 50% white students? In the former case, people write alarmist articles while the latter is status quo. The idea that admitting fewer Asian-Americans into top universities such as Berkeley and UCLA would somehow be doing them a favor by helping them to 'integrate effectively' is bizarre.

    Nov. 1, 2012 at 3:53 p.m.


    I'm an Asian. My children are born here and have attended only public schools. They don't speak any Asian language and learn Spanish as a foreign language. Why must they be subjected to higher admission standard than their peers just because their parents are Asians? The additional 63-point in SAT score is discriminatory when many Ivy League applicants regularly have scores north of 2200.

    Nov. 1, 2012 at 12:05 p.m.

    The Descriptionist
    NY, NY

    Affirmative Action was created because non-whites were being kept out of education in America. Now, it's being used to ensure that the right types of "non-whites" are represented proportionally. That alone means it is not working.

    I value diversity. As an Asian American, I've pushed to hire a diverse mix of men, women and ethnicities in our workplace. But these men and women have to work together for a common company goal. And it's the only way to get different viewpoints so necessary for a corporate entity to survive. Corporate America is not really the same as Educational America.

    I'm not sure if going on pure merit isn't the best way for our education system to go. Sure, children of means and resources get a better chance of going to college, but children of homes that place emphasis on education also receive the same chance.

    Who gets left out really? Children of families with no emphasis on the importance of education. Walk into a home which does not value education, and no amount of Affirmative Action will make a difference.

    Immigrant Asian families have proven that poverty is not an insurmountable hurdle in the pursuit of education. It's about will. Collective will, not just that of the children, but of the families as well.

    Affirmative Action was needed two generations ago in order for minorities to even gain access to higher education. Perhaps the day as come to do away with it, and let's see how far we have progressed as a color blind nation.

    Nov. 1, 2012 at 3:54 p.m.


    As a young Asian American who immigrated to the US at 5 years old and was naturalized at 16, I am saddened that it would take a white girl's lawsuit to bring this issue to the nation's attention. I attended NYU, which has a conspicuously large population of Asian, and now work at a major corporation. I have also recruited NYU students for my company, and have heard comments from those more senior that the school is "too Asian" or that a pool of NYU resumes chosen based on merit was too Asian. To what extent will we continue to punish merit in the name of "diversity"? And who made up the rule that any given pool of students or workers chosen based on merit had to match the racial composition of the USA?

    Nov. 1, 2012 at 1:31 p.m.

    New York

    Asian Americans aren't mentioned often in the debate about affirmative action in this newspaper because they're the best argument against the policy existing in its current state. This is a group that faced extreme racial discrimination throughout their history in the United States and even had legal legislation passed against them, but has excelled despite little formal assistance from the federal government. And to be frank, this destroys the notion many of my liberal counterparts hold that previously oppressed minorities simply cannot make it without the government holding their hand.

    And make no mistake that Asians are discriminated against.


    "Espenshade found that when comparing applicants with similar grades, scores, athletic qualifications, and family history for seven elite private colleges and universities: Whites were three times as likely to get fat envelopes as Asians. Hispanics were twice as likely to win admission as whites. African-Americans were at least five times as likely to be accepted as whites."

    You read that right. Whites with similar qualifications are twice as likely to be accepted.

    Or this:  http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/education/story/2011-12-03/asian-students-college-applications/51620236/1


Half Asian students purposely leave out their Asian roots in applications to avoid being discriminated against.

Nov. 1, 2012 at 12:05 p.m.

E. T.

I am an ABC. American born Chinese. The Chinese and Asian family, study, education and work ethic is central to our upbringing. Asians outnumbering all other ethnic groups in higher education is a MERITOCRACY. We Asians don't need affirmative action, nor have we ever. We only ever needed a fair chance. Now society wants to handicap Asians in schools like African Americans are.....handicapped in college sports?!?!

Nov. 1, 2012 at 7:19 p.m.


“I fear that if affirmative action is overthrown by the Supreme Court, our elite campuses will look like U.C.L.A. and Berkeley,” Mr. Burgarin said. “That wouldn’t be good for Asians or for anyone else.”

This guy must be kidding. Discrimination good for Asian? If philipinos want to excel, hit the books. In the last 10 years, those students ill-prepared for college had basically disappeared from UCLA and UCB campuses. The class rooms are now much more vibrant and competitive. What is not good about it? Different bar for different group? The arguement is a just as racist as separate but equal.

Nov. 1, 2012 at 11:15 a.m.

Roger Clegg, Center for Equal Opportunity
Falls Church, VA

As we all know and as the article makes clear, America is not a white-black country: Indeed, it's largest minority group now is Latinos, and it's fastest growing minority group is Asians. And there are many subgroups within each group: Whites, for example, typically include Arab Americans as well as European Americans; blacks include recent immigrants and African Americans whose ancestors came here hundreds of years ago; Latinos vary widely in national origin, and include those with roots in Cuba and Puerto Rico, Mexico and Central and South America; and the article discusses the many Asian subgroups. Finally, more and more Americans -- starting with our president -- can check more than one racial/ethnic box.

In a nation like ours, it is simply untenable for our laws and institutions, including our universities, to classify and sort people according to skin color and what country someone's ancestors came from, and to award preferences and disadvantages based on blood.

Nov. 1, 2012 at 11:15 a.m.


Yet another bias and one sided pro aff-action propaganda written and published to satisfy the agenda of pro-aff-action politics. If you substitute the word 'Asian-American' with "black-American', you will realize that this article would never have been dared written or published. But somehow using 'Asian-Americans' as a punching bag, racism is perfectly acceptable. The 'facts' presented in this argument are baseless and irrelevant. Just because some Asian-Americans i.e. Pacific Islanders - a catchall classification that is racist in itself - 'benefit' from admissions (really? Does this included Obama? I've never encountered a freshman class full of pacific-islanders) does not exclude the argument that qualified Asian-Am students are denied admission due to competition amongst themselves for the 20% quota. There are many rich black students from well connected and well educated families who benefit from admission to ivy league colleges - is this not discriminatory to the black students who are from economically challenged families who see their quota being given to the rich black students? And what is most offensive is the assertion and tired argument of 'we can't have 50% Asian-Am in our class since it does nothing to help them outside of classrooms and hider their ability to integrate with the outside society' would the author and NYT DARE print the same statement if he or she replaced 'Asian Am' with 'African Am'?'

Nov. 1, 2012 at 3:56 p.m.

Hanover, NH

This quotation really bothered me.

“I fear that if affirmative action is overthrown by the Supreme Court, our elite campuses will look like U.C.L.A. and Berkeley,” Mr. Burgarin said. “That wouldn’t be good for Asians or for anyone else.”

I think the reasoning that was given by Burgarin/The Times is both unconvincing and insulting. Moreover, the fact that the article would CONCLUDE with such a statement is a real shame. I expected more from the NYT.

Nov. 2, 2012 at 12:19 a.m.

north carolina

The "holistic admission" is a scam, designed to let the admissions office tinker their numbers behind a curtain and to avoid transparency and accountability (and to preempt lawsuits).

Nov. 1, 2012 at 6:02 p.m.


It really does seem that the NY Times simply can't write about Affirmative Action without trotting out frankly dishonest arguments in an attempt to make Affirmative Action look like a good thing. (Certainly there are good moral/social arguments for some form of Affirmative Action, but one will never hear them at The Times, because it would involve an honest discussion.)

Nothing should be more obvious than that, for many if not most Asian groups, Affirmative Action is rightly regarded as directly counter to their interests. These are the Asian groups who, in fact, excel at the things that tend to count most for admission to our elite universities: GPA, SAT, ACT, and AP tests. Insofar as the admission process further emphasizes those features, it will directly increase the number of members of those groups admitted to elite institutions. For Affirmative Action, however, the pressure is entirely in the opposite direction: it is precisely in GPA, SAT, etc., that other minorities most severely come up short, and it is precisely the role of Affirmative Action to compensate for this shortcoming.

In fact, this group of Asians even more than whites suffer from the "holistic" process which these days implements Affirmative Action. They are even better than whites on the standard metrics. "Holistic" is, in effect, if not in intent, almost specifically anti-Asian; many whites, but relatively few of these Asians, may profit from a "holistic" admission process.

Why pretend otherwise?

Nov. 2, 2012 at 12:25 a.m.

The Blue Box

Basing admissions on race instead of socioeconomic status is completely out-moded these days when there just as many wealthy blacks (read not necessarily slave descended African Americans) as there are poor Asians.

In professional orchestras, musicians audition for an open position by playing behind a curtain and never uttering a word. This way, they are only judged based upon their musical playing ability. Why can't we do something similar in colleges? Assign each applicant a number based upon their application/extracurriculars and then, in the end, have a computer give extra points for hardship or socioeconomic status. Then, set a numerical cut-off line. Race never seen. Hopefully the socioeconomic bonus points will still ensure racial diversity.

I attended college at one of those top elite colleges that had a seminar every year on their admissions process. They basically went step-by-step, point-by-point through the entire process, which assigned points to various aspects of an applicant's scores and clubs and background, which were then tallied at the end. Being from an underrepresented race or region (which included being black or a white man from the midwest) gave the applicant as many points as my 3 year science project which I spend hundreds of hours on and won me national accolades. Luck of the draw I guess.

If I wasn't jaded before, I was after.

Nov. 2, 2012 at 12:26 a.m.


My mom didn't want me to marry an Asian girl because she feared her grandchildren would be discriminated against. Turned out she was absolutely right.

But unlike most of the kids applying to colleges from Stuyvesant HS, who are mostly Asians of one sort or another, my daughter has reluctantly and resentfully chosen to conceal her Asian identity in college application in the long-standing tradition of American strivers who are able to "pass."

For Stuy kids without that option, the combination of anti-Asian discrimination, inside-track admission policies for the children of celebrities and alumni and vast numbers of slots reserved for athletes, chances of admission to the elite universities become slim indeed, as admission numbers prove.

These kids, the best and brightest of New York City, have learned their lessons well, and know the game is rigged against them. In light of this, it is less surprising that a few of the cheated feel no qualms about cheating a bit themselves, as reported in gleeful detail by the NYT.

Race-mongers have the answer though. The goal is to tilt the Stuyvesant admissions system to favor ethnic groups that do not perform so well on the race-blind New York specialized HS admissions test. This will help to reduce the number of uppity Asians clogging the system to better achieve fairness and diversity.

Nov. 1, 2012 at 3:53 p.m.

Washington DC

Good to see the term "Asian" used correctly.

Asia starts in Turkey, covers the entire Middle East, reaches India, and then China, the Far East, and Japan.

A Turk is "Asian"

An Iranian (or Persian) is "Asian"

A Pakistani is "Asian"

A Saudi is "Asian"

An Indian is "Asian"

and then of course,

A Chinese is "Asian"

A Vietnamese is "Asian"


In America, as a Persian, I haven't been able to say I'm "Asian" because the term has been completely mis-used to mean the Far East only. Good to see this article finally understand the boundaries of the vast continent that is "Asia." (A review of the Asian Games would also underscore the incredible diversity of the continent.)

"Asian" isn't a race - the continent has many different and diverse races. As always, a little education goes a long way.

Nov. 1, 2012 at 12:04 p.m.

Boston, MA

Using race in college admission is a racist policy itself. Period. You can't sugarcoat it. This is social-engineering at its worst.

Biracial kids or mulltiracial kids have been checking the race box in college admission to avoid mentioning Asian even part of them are.http://www.jessewashington.com/im-not-asian.html

Is this the way we want to teach our kids about race?

Nov. 1, 2012 at 1:30 p.m.

New York

It seems affirmative action is a way of making sure that each ethnic group has a fixed number of places for which members compete only against each other.

Groups with less focus on studying and education are freed from the need to change their culture to compete with those who value it more, since they will get guaranteed admission regardless of whether they have the same qualifications.

But how will freezing those cultural patterns in place make us more equal or reduce our racial divisions? It seems to me it will do the exact opposite.

Doesn't being productive in a modern world require that all ethnic groups be more like most Jews and Asian-Americans, and focus on being well-educated, if we are going to have a highly-skilled workforce and be competitive in the world economy?

Doesn't reserving places for relatively less competitive students encourage just the opposite?

Nov. 1, 2012 at 12:34 p.m.

Richard Guha
Weston, CT

This simply points up the absurdity of racial classifications. What of mixed-race people, a category which is growing towards the norm? How do we classify people who can claim multiple heritages? Do we discriminate in favor of one of their ancestors, or against another? Almost everyone in my extended family seems to be a mix, but a different mix. So, are they not related to me? How crazy have we become. I also have issues with the fact that many seem to feel pressured to self-identify with one of their ancestors, thus denying another - even our President. Can't people simply be, and be judged as individuals. If poverty or a bad school handicaps someone, then let us allow for that.

Nov. 1, 2012 at 11:44 a.m.


Mr. Ron Burgarin - Berkeley admissions are done holistically and are not based simply on test scores. And your "fear" that "elite" schools would look like Berkeley or UCLA is very revealing. Berkeley is certainly on a par with your "elite" (elitist?) institutions and as far as graduate education is concerned leaves many of them in the dust. It awards a larger percentage of graduate degrees to under-represented minorities (this does not include Asians) than do all the Ivy "elites" combined. Looking like Berkeley is a thing to avoid?

Nov. 2, 2012 at 12:25 a.m.


So those Asian students are denied admission for their own good? Nice!

Too bad they cannot take a class to learn about it.

Beyond a certain point, too many Asian students dilute the value of the degree? Because it's all about the numbers, with Asians?

And lest this argument should prove insufficient, it's useful to recall, as the article does, that they don't know whether their subgroup would win or lose if racial admissions were abolished. Are they Vietnamese or Indian? Chinese or Japanese?

Divide et impera, that's the ticket.

Nov. 1, 2012 at 3:54 p.m.

Rochester, NY

We do have too many Asians on our elite campuses, way more than their ~4.8% share of the general population. Some people argue that we should keep a lid on the number of such faces.

We also have way TOO MANY African Americans in NBA, far more than their ~12.6% share. Why don't we impose affirmative action there as well, and do "holistic draft" every year instead? We might not have Michael Jordan playing for the Bulls, but we would have a "better integrated" NBA work force.

Nov. 2, 2012 at 9:23 a.m.

Eric Rooney

Since race is something that cannot even be quantified, it should not be part of any admissions process. How can you compensate for something that is so vague? Annual household income, level of education, grades, and hometown/place of birth are real values that can be calibrated for. As the article implies, an Asian from the south side of Chicago and another from the north side of the same city may have nothing in common except their "race". Having said that, I think there is an existing and growing fear of Asians in America that is reminiscent of both the anti-Japanese and anti-Communist suspicions of the last century. Look at the campaign ads from both candidates against China and you see a lot more than nationalism, you see disdain for non-white competition.

Nov. 2, 2012 at 12:18 a.m.

Staten Island

I simply don't understand why discrimination in "the first half of the 20th century" should have anything to do with admission policies today. Are we honestly to believe that non-white students today are somehow mystically oppressed by events that took place long before they were born? Unless you can prove that people are being held back by discrimination that is taking place TODAY, institutionalized racial discrimination in favor of non-whites (aka, "affirmative action") should not even be considered as an option.

Nov. 2, 2012 at 12:18 a.m.

New York

It is not affirmative in that it privileges certain people over others, and especially laughable given that those who it helps often moan about racism yet keep playing the race card to gain such questionable gains through dated policies such as these.

Nov. 1, 2012 at 7:19 p.m.


“I fear that if affirmative action is overthrown by the Supreme Court, our elite campuses will look like U.C.L.A. and Berkeley,” Mr. Burgarin said. “That wouldn’t be good for Asians or for anyone else.”

Except for those Asian American kids who work extremely hard to try to get into these prestigious schools but was denied because the campus already have more than half Asian American students. No matter how you slice it, it's not a fair game for those kids. Forced diversity is as bad as forced segregation.

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