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VICTOR JOECKS: The discrimination in higher education that Democrats don’t oppose

The federal government shouldn’t subsidize colleges that discriminate against Asian Americans. Senate Democrats, however, recently voted down a plan that would have enshrined that concept into law.

Last week, Sens. Ted Cruz and John Kennedy, both Republicans, put forward a plan that shouldn’t sound controversial. It would have prevented a college or university that “discriminates against Asian Americans in recruitment, applicant review or admissions” from receiving federal funds.

Who could be against that? Senate Democrats — including Nevada Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen — who voted unanimously against the proposal.

This is a real issue. Some elite universities actively discriminate against Asian Americans. Compared with the overall population, Asian Americans are overrepresented at these institutions. But if admissions were based solely on academic qualifications, their representation would be higher.

In 2014, Students for Fair Admissions sued Harvard over this issue. That case is ongoing, and in February the group asked the Supreme Court to review the matter.

As part of discovery, Harvard had to turn over internal reports created in 2013 on its admissions. Asian students made up 19 percent of the freshman class. But if acceptance had been based solely on academics, it would have been 43.4 percent. Even after accounting for legacy admissions and athletes, it would have been 31.4 percent.

During the admissions process, Harvard gives each student a “personal rating.” This subjective score supposedly reflects an applicant’s personality and character traits, such as likability and kindness. Harvard staff consistently gave Asian students the lowest ratings.

More bluntly, Harvard contends that Asian applicants lack social skills and desirable personalities compared with other groups. The bigotry of such a statement should be obvious. There’s another destructive message here. Harvard implies that African American and Hispanic applicants can’t compete on their own merits.

It’s not just Harvard. Under the Trump administration, the Department of Justice sued Yale for similar practices. After President Joe Biden entered office, the Justice Department dropped the suit.

Prominent Democrats, including Biden, frequently accuse America, including police, of being “systemically racist.” Their definition of that term is slippery. They often seem to believe that inappropriate individual actions within a system are representative of the entire system.

But you know what fits the bill? Powerful organizations, as a matter of policy and practice, using skin color to reduce someone’s chances of success.

That’s systemic racism. It’s happening in elite institutions of higher education to the detriment of Asian Americans. Democrats, despite their rhetorical flourishes, keep looking the other way.

Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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