Letters to the Editor: The ‘open secret’ of anti-Asian bias in college admissions

Harvard's campus in Cambridge, Mass.
Harvard’s campus in Cambridge, Mass. The university’s admissions practices are the subject of a Supreme Court case on affirmative action.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: That Asian American applicants to elite universities have been discriminated against in the name of achieving racial diversity is a shame and has long been an open secret. (“Are Asian American college applicants at a disadvantage? Supreme Court debate stirs fear,” Nov. 4)

I am puzzled at the assertion by someone quoted in your article that affirmative action is “vital for historically underrepresented minority groups so that they have access to education.” Can anyone, with a clear conscience, claim that Blacks and Latinos lack access to education?

Instead of playing the race card, elite universities would be wise to follow the example of how elite symphony orchestras recruit top-notch musicians. During auditions, the musicians play their instruments behind a screen, so the judges have no way of determining race. The selection is totally merit-based.


Of course, not all applicants can be Yo-Yo Ma. Rejected musicians can still audition at other orchestras.

It’s high time the Supreme Court struck down the consideration of race in college admissions.

Dienyih Chen, Redondo Beach


To the editor: As an Asian American, reading this article brought me a flashback of sorrow. Twenty-plus years ago, my cousin — the sweetest, kindest young girl — committed suicide at a prestigious university due to societal and familial pressures to achieve academic excellence.

While there is so much nuance to affirmative action — and no one-size-fits-all approach — I wish to share one message with all my fellow Asian Americans: You are enough.

The biggest glory is not to move far away to an “elite” college, but to find love for yourself where you are, and then to use that love to create meaningful connections with the local community and to care for the land on which you live.


Jennifer Ho, La Crescenta


To the editor: As the parent of a high schooler and a former teacher, I have long been following your education coverage, including on affirmative action. I can only conclude that our K-12 public education system has been hijacked by the college admissions process.

We have drifted so far away from the core mission of creating an informed electorate. The detriment is real — one need only look at the past six years to see what happens when you no longer have an informed electorate.

I challenge any school district that disagrees to include passage of the citizenship test, required of anyone wishing to become a naturalized American, as a requirement for high school graduation. In the meantime, we will stand idly by and watch our democracy erode from within.

Jason Y. Calizar, Torrance