(KRON) — An Asian American student claims that affirmative action is to blame for his recent rejections from top tier colleges and universities across the United States. However, the law which impacts admissions of at least one of those colleges prevents racial preference when considering students.
Jon Wang, 18, of Florida told Fox News that he applied to MIT, CalTech, Princeton, Harvard, Carnegie-Mellon and University of California, Berkeley, but was rejected by each of them. Wang’s parents are both Chinese immigrants, and he argues that his Asian American heritage worked against him in his application process, thanks to affirmative action policies. However, one of the colleges that Wang was denied by has published reports which show it may not be the case.
Wang is one of the plaintiffs that has filed suit against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina over affirmative action, and the cases are expected to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court late this month. The Harvard and UNC cases have been separated into two separate decisions since one institution is public and one is private.
The UNC case is will consider whether the school was unwilling to adopt a “race-neutral alternative” to affirmative action. The case against Harvard will determine if the university was in violation of the Civil Rights Act by “discriminating against Asian-American applicants.”
As for Wang’s rejection from UC Berkeley, a 1998 California law banned the use of racial preferences in admissions at public colleges in California. The law, called Proposition 209, approved by voters in 1996, ended race and gender-blind criteria for admissions decisions at public institutions in the Golden State. This law prevented affirmative action from negatively impacting Wang’s admission to the public university.
The University of California Office of the President said the resulting drop in underrepresented populations (i.e. Black, Latino, Native American and Pacific Islander communities) after 1996 had a tangible impact on UC campuses. Members of underrepresented groups applying to UC Berkeley after Prop 209 were 31% less likely to be accepted into the college.
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After race-conscious admissions ended in California, climates have grown more hostile for underrepresented students on campuses, according to the UC Office of the President. This isn’t necessarily true on campuses where race-conscious policies are still being applied, the office says.
As for claims that some ethnic groups face a disadvantage at top colleges like UC Berkeley, the report from the university’s Office of the President disagrees.
“Race-conscious admissions policies do not disproportionately harm Asian American students,” the study from the UC Office of the President writes.
As the nation waits on the Supreme Court to determine the future of race-based admissions, other colleges and universities are sharing concerns about their potential loss of future Black and Latino students in particular if race-neutrality became required. Officials with Amherst College estimate that they could lose as many as half of their future Black, Hispanic and Indigenous populations if affirmative action is banned.
“We fully expect it would be a significant decrease in our population,” said Matthew McGann, Amherst’s director of admission.
The Associate Press contributed to this report.