Discrimination in Ivy League Admissions

One of the most eye-opening articles this year: Ron Unz, in The American Conservative, shows that that the Ivy League covertly discriminates against Asian applicants and in favour of Jewish ones. It is long, detailed, and solidly backed with evidence. Here are just a few highlights:

On the under-representation of Asian-Americans:

while … Asian-American academic achievement trends were rising at such an impressive pace, the relative enrollment of Asians at Harvard was plummeting, dropping by over half during the last twenty years, with a range of similar declines also occurring at Yale, Cornell, and most other Ivy League universities. Columbia, in the heart of heavily Asian New York City, showed the steepest decline of all.

By contrast, Caltech selects strictly by merit

since the beginning of the 1990s, Caltech’s Asian-American enrollment has risen almost exactly in line with the growth of America’s underlying Asian population, with Asians now constituting nearly 40 percent of each class

There is, says Unz, who is Jewish, over-representation of Jewish students:

We are therefore faced with the clear conundrum that Jewish students seem to constitute roughly 6 percent of America’s highest-ability high school graduates and non-Jewish whites around 65–70 percent, but these relative ratios differ by perhaps 1000 percent from the enrollments we actually find at Harvard and the other academic institutions which select America’s future elites. Meanwhile, an ethnic distribution much closer to this apparent ability-ratio is found at Caltech, whose admissions are purely meritocratic, unlike the completely opaque, subjective, and discretionary Ivy League system

Each year, the Ivy League colleges enroll almost 10,000 American whites and Asians, of whom over 3000 are Jewish. Meanwhile, each year the NMS Corporation selects and publicly names America’s highest-ability 16,000 graduating seniors; of these, fewer than 1000 are Jewish, while almost 15,000 are non-Jewish whites and Asians.

The reason:

In effect, somewhat dim and over-worked admissions officers, generally possessing weak quantitative skills, have been tasked by their academic superiors and media monitors with the twin ideological goals of enrolling Jews and enrolling non-whites, with any major failures risking harsh charges of either “anti-Semitism” or “racism.” But by inescapable logic maximizing the number of Jews and non-whites implies minimizing the number of non-Jewish whites.

How to improve the system? Unz raises the idea of randomly selecting entrants:

(say) 300 slots or around 20 percent of each entering class are allocated based on pure academic merit (the “Inner Ring”), with the remaining 1300 slots being randomly selected from the 30,000 or so American applicants considered able to reasonably perform at the school’s required academic level and thereby benefit from a Harvard education (the “Outer Ring”).

It might have the benefit of making America’s elite rather more modest.

Ron Unz, The Myth of American Meritocracy: How corrupt are Ivy League admissions? The American Conservative November 28, 2012. (pdf)

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