Asian American students take sides in Harvard discrimination case

Laura Heffernan, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Asian American students at Branham are mixed over the results of the lawsuit against Harvard that claims applicants were discriminated against based on their race.
The Department of Justice in August sided against Harvard after the university was sued by a group of Asian American students who said that the elite university’s subjective scoring system hurt their chances for admission. They said that it was a form of discrimination that does not help those who are of Asian descent.
Affirmative action is a policy that favors those who suffer from discrimination, especially in education. These policies have historically benefited those who are underrepresented in higher education, such as black and Hispanic students.
The argument coming from the Asian American students is that Harvard was not acting within its legal limits because of a section of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color and national origin in programs that receive federal financial assistance.
The university claims that affirmative action has not led to the discrimination of Asian American students, pointing out that their population has grown to 29 percent of its student body in the past decade.
Some Asian American students on campus see affirmative action as providing an equal playing field for students while others are left feeling unsure about their futures.
Junior Kaitlyn Lee is an Asian American student who feels her position as an applicant to colleges may be threatened by affirmative action.
“Affirmative action has the power to impact me and other students with a similar demographic.” Lee said. “It’s wrong that a college’s racial discrimination against Asian Americans is actually impacting chances of getting into a university, as there shouldn’t be a bias against any group.”
Other students feel that affirmative action policies are up to the schools, and the diversity that they would like to have.
“As an institution I think they have control over that.” senior Lauryn Ping said. “They’re trying to promote more equality so I think they’re completely fine with that.”
Ping said she believes that without affirmative action, her mother, a first generation immigrant, would not have been accepted into a good college.
“My mom was actually really poor when she was younger because her parents were first generation immigrants and they didn’t speak any English.” Ping said, “She got into UCLA and the only reason why she got in was probably because of affirmative action.”
Guidance counselor Loan Hong also speaks to affirmative action helping disadvantaged students.
“Affirmative action ensures diversity and helps disadvantaged students with advancing,” Hong said. “Colleges are like a microcosm of our society. Colleges should have diversity.”
While affirmative action has the power to promote more diversity on a school campus, it can also hurt equally qualified students as seen in the Harvard lawsuit.
Lee, the junior student, said that affirmative action is effective up to a certain extent,but she also said that it undermines the hard work she and her classmates have put in throughout their high school careers.
“Basing college admissions purely off affirmative action is an injustice,” she said. “Each person deserves an equal opportunity.”