November 14, 2006

More on affirmative action

Posted in Higher Education at 7:48 pm by ndsmith

Keeping you up to date on this issue: an asian student, Jian Li is filing suit against Princeton University for descriminatory policies against asian students. This Chinese high school student, in the top 1% of his class, with perfect SAT scores, was denied admission to Princeton after being wait-listed (he is attending Yale this year). His claim rests on recent research performed by Princeton’s faculty who found that at America’s elite Universities, Asian-Americans would be the group that would benefit most from eliminating affirmative action, predicting three-fold increase in their enrollment, from 12.2% to 33.7%. Conversely, enrollment of blacks and hispanics, the article claims, would fall from 9% to 3.3% and 7.9% to 3.8%, respectively.

The suit may not succeed, but it puts an interesting spin on the affirmative action policies. Is there a perception that grades + SAT scores = admission to elite Universities? Having just returned from France, where I stayed at the Ecole Normale Superieure, a true meritocracy, I can say that that system too has its disadvantages: students take two or three years after high school preparing for the entrance examination to be admitted; they are often overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, etc. (manifesting itself in nearly annual suicide attempts–this past year, resulting in the death of one student); the system is under-funded and lacks vitality; and almost no racial diversity apparent at the institution.

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