Harvard and Asian Americans

The current trial regarding Harvard’s admissions policies seem to clearly indicate that they discriminate against Asian Americans. I had always assumed this to be the case. My take is that the problem is not so much that Harvard is non-transparent and unfair in how it selects students but rather that Harvard and the other top universities have too much influence on the rest of society. Each justice on the US Supreme Court has a degree from either Harvard or Yale. That is positively feudalistic. So here is my solution. All universities have a choice. They can 1) choose students any way they wish but they lose their tax free status or 2) retain tax exempt status but then adhere to strict non-discrimination and affirmative action rules. The top schools already have massive endowments and hurt the locales they are in by buying property and then not pay property taxes. I say let them do what they want but tax them heavily for the right to do so. The government should also not subsidize loans for students that attend such schools.

2 thoughts on “Harvard and Asian Americans

  1. I was up at MIT last spring for the graduation of a relative. My guess was half of her friends were of asian descent–and interestingly, MIT has some humanities and social science depts (not many), and most of her male asian friends (from places like singapore, china, vietnam) were not in the ‘hard sciences’—all the females were. (my relative now has a job in uk doing data analytics for FB). (I actually knew an MIT history professor who was on sabbatical and lived across the street. one time i found his lost wallet but i didn’t get a reward for finding it. they said i stole it, but i told them i found it–and told him dont leave stuff around.)

    (I also got into trouble up there when after the MIT visit we went to stay at the beach –Hull, not cape cod—and i decided to take a walk and swim in atlantic ocean. I was far away from everyone but someone called the police –i saw some people with binoculars. I know i did break a rule, but i sort of know how to swim in atlantic ocean. i was considering swimming to england. just avoid the sharks. police drove me home and i got in trouble but not with the police.. ).

    Quite likely harvard does discriminate if you only use test scores. (They actually seemed to argue asians score low on ‘popularity’ and other social skills–because all they do is study. That may be genetics (eg S Hsu) or it may be culture. I don’t think many asians go to frat parties unless they are Dinesh d’souza).

    My view is ‘harvard’ should decentralize. (so to an extent i agree with Bryan Caplan of GMU economics–anarcho-capitalist–abolish education).

    There are even people teaching at U District of Columbia with harvard degrees (eg mathematical biology of cancer , chaos theory etc. A few years ago all UDC had was business and criminal justice. ) .

    someone sent me this link today https://www.yang2020.com my guess is he appears to be of asian descent but may not have a harvard degree. (his UBI proposal is very flawed like most of them).

    Half the stuff i saw at MIT and which is produced at harvard by all these brilliant people i do not need. (my niece’s job is detecting ‘fake news’ on FB. i guess its a coevolutionary game or arms war–eg hamilton of math biology–one group makes money producing fake news, the other group makes money detecting fakes news. Similar to Big Pharma—one group makes money getting everyone addicted to opiates, while the other group makes money helping people get off opiate addiction).

    the asians who run the ‘chinese carryouts’ and liquor stores around here don’t go to harvard. they worry about guns.


  2. I think there’s no doubt they discriminate against Asians. They also do the opposite for non-Asian minorities. Probably whites end up net beneficiaries — some are displaced by non-Asians, but more displace Asians.

    You assume that a race-neutral system is self-evidently the right approach, but I think you would get a lot of pushback on that premise from traditional affirmative action supporters.

    Also it does seem like it should not JUST be test scores that applicants are judged on, so some amount of subjectivity is going to be introduced into the process. And with subjectivity comes an inevitable thumb on the scale in one direction or another, even unintentionally.

    On your other point, about the incredible influence of these schools, I wonder what the ‘brand’ effects of a mostly Asian Harvard would be. Pros and cons no doubt. There was an interesting article in the NYT about the NYC elite public schools, in which alums from the era when they were highly black and brown reflected on the current ethnic makeup (i.e. mostly Asian, barely any black/brown) of the schools.

    I wonder whether you think these schools should be able to discriminate based on national origin — essentially favor US citizens. My inclination would be to favor that sort of discrimination but perhaps I could be persuaded otherwise. (Before you ban me from your blog, I want to make clear I consider Canadians honorary Americans.)


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