Monday, June 18, 2018

Ranking of Racism against Asian Americans at Ivy League Schools

It has long been assumed that the Ivy League schools are racist against Asians, but it's been hard to understand the extent of the racism. There are some universities that try to run purely meritocratic admissions systems involving fewer subjective evaluations. For example, Caltech has an Asian enrollment of 43%, but it's not clear whether that's comparable to other schools because of the heavy engineering focus of the school. Berkeley is a more well-rounded university and it has an Asian enrollment of 41%, but it's a public university in a state with a high Asian population, so it's not clear if it's comparable to universities in other parts of the country.

Fortunately, Harvard ran the numbers back in the 2013, and they found that if they ranked students solely by academic qualifications, then Asians would make up around 40% of the admissions. Even if Harvard continued to set aside spots for athletes and undeserving rich people, then Asians would make up 31%. If extra-curriculars and other subjective measures were included as well, then Asians should still make up around 26% of the student population (even though in 2013, only 19% of the admitted class was Asian). I believe that the Asian population has only grown since 2013.

These numbers agree with the Berkeley and Caltech numbers, so I feel it's safe to use these numbers to do back-of-the-envelope calculations for how racist against Asians each university is. The Harvard numbers should be comparable with other prestigious, well-rounded, private universities that attract students from across the country. So it should be safe to compare the numbers to other Ivy League universities.

So I visited the websites of the Ivy League universities, and grabbed their reported diversity statistics on Asian admissions. The numbers are hard to compare because different universities categorized their students differently. If universities had a separate category for unknown and/or foreign students, then I left them out of the total. If there was a category for multi-racial, I did not include that number in the count of percentage Asians. As a result, the numbers are very noisy, but I think they still give a basis for comparing universities. I think that universities with Asian enrollment in the high 20s or low 30s are demonstrating low amounts of racism against Asians.

So here are the results:

1. Brown (18.16%) - most racist
2. Yale (21%)
3. Dartmouth (21.74%)
4. Harvard (22.2%) - probably worse than Dartmouth, but the numbers are hard to compare
5. Cornell (23.26%)
6. UPenn (23.56%)
7. Princeton (25.29%)
8. Columbia (29%) - least racist

And here's Stanford's numbers even though they aren't an Ivy League university:

Stanford (26.44% Asian)

Initially, the numbers seem to suggest that Brown is the most racist against Asians of the universities. They also have the lowest enrollment of African Americans of the other Ivy League universities, so they just fail on diversity in general. They do have a large number of students classified as multi-racial, which makes things unclear, but things still look bad after removing them from the totals. It's possible that Yale or Harvard are, in fact, the worst universities because they don't have a "multi-racial" category and their percentage of enrollment being Asian is pretty low.

There's a bunch of universities in the middle that seem to be sort of racist. Princeton seems to be the best of the middle.

The least racist, by far, seems to be Columbia, which achieves a high-20s in Asian enrollment, which is the safe zone. They also have strong African enrollment as well. It demonstrates that it is possible to have diverse minority enrollment without unduly punishing Asians.

So what's going on? These universities (other than Columbia) are using the implicit bias effect to willfully keep down Asian enrollment. These universities intentionally add subjective measures into student evaluations that are known to be subject to bias. They then hire admissions officers of dubious qualifications who don't understand the Asian experience or don't like Asians in general, who implicitly prefer applicants who are more like themselves, and who are told to find applicants who match an Ivy League "culture" or "character profile" that run contrary to Asian stereotypes and biases. As a result, they end up giving lower subjective scores to Asians. Is the applicant who plays badminton more or less "brave" than the applicant who plays football? Is the atheist applicant more or less kind than the church-going applicant? There is no way of knowing those things, but people will inevitably form an opinion based on their implicit biases. For example, Harvard gave lower "personality" ratings to Asian applicants in general. I can imagine that, yes, some universities might prefer people with certain personalities over others. But that mix of personalities should be evenly distributed among all people. If one race consistently score poorly on the personality rating versus all other races, then there's some implicit racism going on there that needs to be fixed. Strangely, no personality deficiencies were found during alumni interviews. The bias only appeared during the ranking of personal qualities by the Admissions Office.

Here are some more in-depth articles if you want a deeper dive in the issues involved: 1, 2, 3.

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