Last week’s horrific murders in Atlanta sparked support for Asian-American citizens. “An attack on a group of us is an attack on all of us – and on everything we represent as an institution,” Harvard President Lawrence Bacow said in a statement. “For Asians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in our community, we stand with you every day, now and in the future.” The Fairfax County public schools in Virginia proclaimed that “anti-Asian hatred affects our students, our colleagues, our families and our community” and promised to “tackle misinformation and xenophobic language” about the “marginalization” of Americans from Asia promotes.
Still, these schools and many other Asian Americans discriminate in their admissions policies. In some cases this practice is phrased in two languages about “diversity”, “equity” and “inclusion”. In others it is accompanied by the same kind of bigotry that these schools condemn.
My colleagues and I represent many Asian American families who have felt the sting of discrimination. One case involves a coalition of Asian-American parents in Fairfax County, including Hanning Chen, who left China to study in the United States and is now a university professor. Mr. Chen’s eldest daughter attends Thomas Jefferson High School, known as TJ. Her younger sister may find the schoolhouse door closed for her.
In December, Fairfax County changed TJ’s admissions policy in response to increasing sentiment that there were “too many” Asian American students. The county replaced an objective admission test with a process aimed at achieving a racially “balanced” student body at the expense of Asian-American applicants.
Harvard has been sued for its racially conscious admissions policy. Plaintiffs allege that Harvard discriminates by assigning Asian Americans lower “personal ratings” to denote traits such as leadership and grit. The Princeton Review has advised Asian American applicants not to realize that they intend to pursue a career in medicine or a major in math or science lest they appear “too Asian”. The Justice Department filed a similar lawsuit against Yale last year, but it was dropped by the Biden administration in February.