How Can Anyone Honestly Defend Harvard’s Discriminatory Admissions Practices? Especially Harvard?

The federal trial that began last week in  Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, featuring  America’s oldest college being accused of discriminating against Asian-American applicants should, if there is justice in the world, both finally kill the lingering bigotry of college affirmative action policies and expose the U.S.’s most prestigious educational institution, and the ideological philosophy that has captured it, as the hypocritical and fraudulent entity that it is.  Does Harvard discriminate on the basis of race? Why yes, it does. There is no valid argument that it does not. Evidence shows that the college ties itself into logical knots concocting ways to justify not admitting Asian-American applicant who would sail into freshman classes were not their race used to undermine their candidacy. The plaintiffs cite reports that Harvard itself conducted  in 2013. The reports, by Harvard’s Office of Institutional Research, found that being Asian-American was negatively associated with being admitted. Harvard claims that it must consider race in order to have a “diverse” student body, which is important, it says, to the quality of education one can obtain there. “Diversity,” however is and has always been a rationalization for discrimination. No matter how affirmative action is framed, the fact is that it is a zero-sum game: for each individual whose race benefits their quest for admission, there is another individual whose race is used as a justification to reject him or her. There is no way of getting around this inconvenient fact, yet Harvard and other elite institutions persist in denying it. 

Harvard’s internal statistics indicate that Asian-Americans would account for 43% of admitted classes in race-blind admissions, but their actual class percentage is only 23%. The methods that resulted in the reduced number mirror  the ways Harvard managed to exclude as many Jewish Americans as possible well into the 1950s. The plaintiffs in the current lawsuit have evidence showing that Harvard consistently rated Asian-American applicants lower than others on traits like “positive personality,” likability, courage, kindness and being “widely respected,” according to an analysis of more than 160,000 student records. In many cases, these stereotypes were attached to students before any face-to-face contact between students and interviewers. Asian-Americans still scored higher than applicants of any other racial or ethnic group in other categories like test scores, grades and extracurricular activities, but the Asian-American students’ personality ratings worked to undermine them. You know—they are clannish. Cold. Ruthless. You’ve seen all those World War II movies.


Harvard, meanwhile, is using the “Who are you going to believe, me, or your lying eyes?” defense, with Harvard President Drew Faust’s  indignant “How dare you accuse such a wonderful institution of discriminatory practices just because we engage in discriminatory practices!” spin.  Initially it fought to keep the damning studies and documents secret, and now it’s trying to justify the unjustifiable. Tragically, polls show that a majority of Asian-Americans support affirmative action despite being victims of it. Thus does peer pressure and liberal cant warp minds and values. Discriminating on the basis of race to try to remedy the results of discrimination by race never made sense as a long-term policy; I can accept the argument that it was once justifiable–I executed affirmative action policies in business and academia—without fully believing it.  Yet this case once again shows that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was correct when he wrote, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”  Holding otherwise—“Discrimination is Equality”—is Orwellian logic. Do progressives really believe the illogic of “positive discrimination,” or are they deliberately arguing what they know to be lie? If Harvard is doing either, how can it be trusted to educate anyone? The institution either embraces cant over reality, or deception over truth.

The same is true of Harvard’s defenders.


Sources :Harvard Crimson,  New York Times 1,2,3.

34 thoughts on “How Can Anyone Honestly Defend Harvard’s Discriminatory Admissions Practices? Especially Harvard?

    • Dare to dream, Slick, dare to dream.

      Most Americans don’t give a rip what goes on at Harvard, including who gets admitted. Oh, if you put it in the terms Jack does, most will probably reject it — until you put in it terms of “but Harvard is a private school and has a right to include diversity among it’s criteria, which necessarily means picking people in some ethnic groups over others. As we all know, diversity is indispensable to a well-rounded educational experience.” Then, a plurality will probably side with Harvard.

      See, when you appeal to the “diversity” label, it’s not discrimination anymore. All you have to do is speak the magic words, and logical arguments and irrefutable facts are instantly rendered irrelevant. Because FEELZ!

  1. At some point in time SCOTUS is going to be presented with a case that will make Affirmative Action illegal, and furthermore, it will likely make asking the race question on any applications illegal. I won’t be sad when this happens.

    • People will just find a way to signal race on their application in other ways. “Performed significant community outreach as president of my high school’s chapter of La Raza.” “NAACP Rising Star Award** Winner.” Or they’ll just outright say it in their applications essays. “Growing up black in Chicago granted me a unique perspective on the needs of underserved communities of color…” etc.

      Unless Harvard is willing to start heavily redacting applications: “President of my high school’s chapter of [service organization]; [Service Organization] [Award] winner; growing up [disadvantaged] in [an american city] granted me a unique perspective on the needs of underserved communities [redacted]…” it’s gonna bleed through.

      **I have no idea if this exact award exists; it’s just an example.

      • It’s been my assumption that the application essay existed so that one could include all of the race/political information that is forbidden on the application form. I figured that the form didn’t gather that data, and so the essay was the ‘back door’ provided to communicate the info to the schools. I wonder if the basic application forms require a racial designation? Or is it added as a code after the complete package is evaluated?

        • When I was applying to undergrad in 2006, to grad school in 2010, and then to law schools in 2015, each time there were little tick-boxes on the online application forms for the applicant to list their race(s). No need to stamp anything on the file jackets; it’s already there.

  2. The chart, if accurate, seems to indicate an average score of about 720 (1440 combined) for blacks and 770 for Asians in 2017. That doesn’t seem like such a large gap that it couldn’t be explained by factors like Asians being overrepresented in hard sciences and underepresented in -ism studies and admissions related to athletics.

    I’ve also seen data that indicates Harvard sends out letters inviting applications from Asians with a combined SAT above 1350, and blacks and Hispanics with a score above 1100.
    It seems more problematic to have students with that large a spread competing with each other. It’s also curious that they would start recruiting at around 1100 if their typical admission is over 1400.

  3. So, if I am reading this chart correctly, the overall range of SAT acceptance scores for 2016 was 715 to 765, with the average African-American applicant being closer to 715 and the average Asian-American being closer to 765? Forget about race, doesn’t this close range suggest that a 50 point differential in SAT scores is pretty meaningless in determining one’s success at Harvard? Would you be fine with Harvard having a policy of “anything over 700 is fine?”

    Everything I have been reading lately suggests that the No. 1 factor in determining success in college is whether that student was successful in high school. The SAT is not a great indicator for a number of reasons, but my primary issue with it is that one can buy a better score through SAT prep, private tutors, etc. Yes, life is not fair, we can’t fix everything, etc., but if you take two kids with the same GPA in the same high school and one has access to a private SAT tutor for a year and one does not, who do you think is going to get the better score?

    • The chart was an illustration, not the whole enchilada. My understanding of the process (my mother was an assistant dean at Harvard) was that test scores could knock you out of contention if they were very low, but not get you admitted without grades and other factors.

      I think test tutors should be banned, and Bar Exam courses too.

      • “I think test tutors should be banned…”
        But how? At the semi-upscale private school I found myself attending for a year in high school, test prep was part of the curriculum. Students were assigned classes based on weakness: the math kids required English prep, and pretty much the rest of us took math prep – 6 weeks, 2 hours per day, 10 students per class. I was astonished at my SAT Math score.
        Don’t test tutors help the chances of the motivated? Or those seeking to remedy an educational deficiency?

        • I have the benefit of mostly teaching poor and middle class students who can’t afford the test prep services. If someone uses those (and some do), I often end up placing them into a class they are not prepared for. I wouldn’t mind the test-prep if it just gave people test taking strategies and was inexpensive. I do mind when people can pay for what essentially is the test bank with answers.

          • Is the prep now simply likely answers to likely question? That’s unfortunate. My classroom experience was more along the lines of: “We’re not letting you boneheads out of this room until you can demonstrate that you grasp these basic math concepts.”.

      • How, pray tell, do you propose to ban test tutors? In my day, they lived off campus, may have had classrooms in their houses, and made a 6 figure (!) living from explaining the oddities of Elizabethan England old English, or how to apply a differential equation. Some were even funny, the first time you saw them: the jokes tended to be repetitive, though, if you took another session.

        Hard to keep a kid on campus to prevent such ‘leg up’ learning. Even harder to keep them from seeing a private tutor who is forbidden to advertise. Think of it! A student could be rebellious and improve their grades at the same time!

        • Require a statement, under oath, whether a student has taken such a course, and dock the scores of anyone who says yes. Have questions that are there solely to flag the liars. The liars are flagged as such to all admissions offices.

          I don’t know—the fact that banning them would be difficult is a separate issue. They undermine the test accuracy and legitimacy, as well as fairness.

          • Let me see if I get your view by a comparison metaphor.

            This is like the ‘Moral Codes’ at many Universities: Everyone must ascribe to them, but few are ever prosecuted under them. They are an ideal one should live up to.

            For instance, take the Aggie Code of Honor: “An Aggie does not lie, cheat or steal or tolerate those who do.” (Farmers Fight!)

            Aggies come from different backgrounds, and therefore have as much propensity toward those antisocial acts as the general population. I personally saw the code broken while on campus, by students and professors. Yet it rarely had consequences.

            An example: One prof, in a expression of hubris, told his classes that we could bring ANYTHING into his tests to help us. He was very careful to give different classes alternate tests, and carried them home with him. However, he was lazy. He lifted questions from his own tests from years ago, only changing one or two values (math related electronics course) on each question. (Some were identical, as shown by his hand drawings of circuits) Knowing HOW to answer the question was the real test.

            We had access to several ‘test files’ on campus: a buddy in the Corp had access to extensive, corrected, carefully filed and organized filing cabinets of old tests on any subject Corp students took and donated. Another study partner had access to similar facilities in the Greek system. The HAM and Electronics clubs likewise. WE HAD EVERY TEST FROM TWO DECADES for this prof.

            We studied those tests. (Irony: in doing so, we learned the material as well) We carried sample tests into class, used them on tests. All we had to do was match the questions with the problem type and how to work the problem was plain.

            Was this unethical? We were technically within his rules, yet I don’t believe he would have thought so. I could rationalize about this, but since reading Ethics Alarms I would now know I was doing so. If you have to rationalize about something, it is likely unethical.

            Yet we were not so stupid as to get perfect scores on every test. Pop quizzes would have shown us up, so we made little silly math errors, enough to let the prof bleed on the paper. It fed his ego, and got us past a very tough course requirement. (Don’t get me wrong: we learned the material. His tests were harder than necessary, just to feed his pride. He had to ‘curve’ grades or most would fail. His unethical conduct did not excuse ours.)

            You are right, Jack: ethics can be difficult to enforce. If one is willing to be unethical, no statement under oath is good enough, and (if one is clever enough) no test will catch all oath breakers.

            Those facts do not invalidate ethics, though. It validates them as needed for a functional society. Without mutual civility, respect, ethics and, yes, common morals, society will degenerate into ‘might makes right.’ This is what the progressive mobs are all about.

    • I have found that success in high school is fairly meaningless. High math ACT scores are what matter. The rest of the ACT, not so much, but the math matters.

        • It was behind a paywall, but I don’t need to read it all. I live this every day. I think the average college student has dropped 3 years behind in math (high school instruction years) since I began my career. It is so bad that math departments have started to teach combined Algebra I and Algebra II in one semester because the students just can’t wait to catch up in math anymore. They need to be in calculus to start their degree and their school systems couldn’t even teach them Algebra I. In spite of this, the students all have Trigonometry on their transcripts and fantastic GPA’s. I think you can imagine how I feel when politicians tell me I need to pay more in taxes to reward these wonderful ‘teachers’.

    • …one can buy a better score through SAT prep…

      That is a FACT: I took the SAT 4 times, and my scores got higher each time (this was before they dumbed the test down, too)

      I took practice exam after practice exam, and got a computer program (for the Commodore 64!) that explained the questions when you missed one. We were poor, and without scholarships I was not going to grace the campus of a community college, much less the major university I matriculated from. (“…from which I matriculated?” Good thing I studied Engineering and not English!)

          • No no no, that is something you should never put up with. Don’t you realize, when you do that, what you sound like? It’s definitely something you should worry about–even if it is a rule that most people have never heard of. Still, it’s amazing how often it comes up, so your proofreading needs to always go above and beyond.

            This is Dwayne, signing off.


  4. What’s more, Slick, it’s cool to not bother with “whom,” no matter whom tells you otherwise, unless you already had its complex usage hammered in at an innocent age.

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