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Op/Ed: Actually, Race-Conscious Admissions Are Good for Asian-Americans

October 05, 2018 American Studies


The Trump administration’s investigations into illegal discrimination at Yale and Harvard are misguided.

By Janelle Wong / The Chronicle of Higher Education

Last week the Department of Justice, joined by the Department of Education, opened a new front in the fight over affirmative action, announcing an investigation into whether Yale discriminates illegally against Asian-American applicants. The move represents the latest attempt by the Trump administration to take aim at the longstanding practice of allowing race to be used as one of many factors, and never the primary or sole factor, in admissions at highly selective colleges and universities.

I am Asian-American, received two degrees from Yale, and I have conducted research on Asian-Americans for more than 20 years as a professor of Asian-American studies. I am also the parent of an Asian-American high-school-aged son who will soon be applying to college. It is for these very reasons that I oppose the investigation and support the current policy of race-conscious admissions.

For the past two decades, I have devoted much of my professional life to teaching students about the long history of racial discrimination faced by Asian-Americans in the United States. Most students have some knowledge of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and the World War II internment of Japanese-Americans, but fewer are familiar with the ways in which anti-Asian hostility led to lynching and mob violence against Asian-Americans in the mid-1800s.

Read the complete analysis by Janelle Wong, professor of American Studies, in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Photo: Yale U. (above) is the focus of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights over whether its undergraduate admissions policies discriminate against applicants based on race. (By Jessica Rinaldi, The Boston Globe, Getty Images, via The Chronicle of Higher Education).