By California state law, race and ethnicity are no longer supposed to be considered in the state’s university system, but the “holistic” admissions process is meant to admit “enough” Blacks and Hispanics and “not too many” Asians.
Despite that, Asian-Americans still made up 43% of Berkeley’s freshman enrollment in 2012 — about four times their representation in California’s teenage population.
In the Ivy League though, the “holistic” admissions process is even more holistic. Asians are the new Jews, restricted to just 16% of admissions.
There is no benign explanation for this disparity, Charles Murray says. This is the unspoken rationale for the Asian-American ceiling:
“Yes, they get high test scores and grades in high school, because that’s all they and their ambitious parents care about. They aren’t intellectually curious. They don’t add to classroom discussions. They don’t have any interests outside academics or maybe music. They don’t come from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. They don’t add as much to the university environment as other kids whose test scores and grades aren’t as high.”
Murray denounces that rationale:
I didn’t write that down because I believe it, or because I think any admissions officer in any elite university in the country will defend it in public, but because something like that logic is the only justification for a ceiling on Asian-American admissions. Otherwise, it’s just discrimination against hard-working, high-achieving young people because of the color of their skin. And that would be despicable.
Murray is statistically savvy enough to know that the same test scores may not mean the same thing across different groups — but that doesn’t serve his rhetorical purposes.