Phi Beta Cons

The Asian Ceiling

At Minding the Campus, Russ Nieli of Princeton has an excellent essay entitled “Is There An Asian Ceiling?”

In it, he surveys the evidence that top schools are — to use a term they’d grimace at — discriminating against high-scoring applicants who are of Asian background in order to make room for black and Hispanic students who have much lower scores.
Why do they do so? Nieli writes, “What motivates them is a combination of ‘social justice’ for previously disadvantaged groups, a fear of being charged with ‘institutional racism’ by Black and Hispanic activists, a perceived social need for more Blacks and Hispanics in leadership positions in the U.S., and a peculiar form of post-60s white-guilt-expiation (the latter brilliantly analyzed by essayist Shelby Steele.)”
This brings to mind a point Thomas Sowell made many years ago: Those groups that relied the most on politics as a means of advancement (especially blacks) have fared the least well economically, while those that did not rely much on politics (especially Jews and Asians) have done extremely well. Looking to the government to solve your problems is a bad idea.
Nieli, incidentally, is the author of a very good short paper on the history of American higher education, published by the Pope Center last year.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.


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