On June 29, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down affirmative action in college admissions, stating that race cannot be a consideration and ordering institutions of higher learning to explore alternative means of achieving diverse student bodies. While many politicians want to weigh in and offer their opinions, it is best to offer the perspective of my intern, Mike Chang, whom affirmative action rules have personally impacted. Here are Mike’s thoughts.
“Following the surge of violent incidents targeting Asian Americans after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the public overwhelmingly opposed the spike in racism and discrimination that was senselessly directed toward these citizens. For ostensibly the first time ever, the national media acknowledged Asian Americans as minorities that face discrimination with virtuous motions to “Stop Asian Hate,” while corporations and elected officials zealously affirmed their support of the Asian community.
“Unfortunately, however, many in our society still fail to acknowledge that discrimination against Asian Americans is hardly unprecedented. For decades, the reality has remained largely unrecognized that although Asian Americans, by and large, achieve the highest scores, they have been disproportionately denied from our finest academic institutions.
“That is why, as an Asian American law school student, I applaud the Supreme Court for its decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard in favor of students who sued Harvard University for admissions policies that the court found overwhelmingly disadvantaged Asian Americans. To quote Justice Clarence Thomas, in his insightful concurring opinion, those affirmative action policies ‘fly in the face of our colorblind Constitution.’ The ruling, which did away with affirmative action practices entirely, was certainly a much-needed legal victory for equal protection that sets the intuitive expectation that universities must follow the rule of law.
“But for the countless Asian Americans, including me, who have endured the devastating impacts of race-based admissions, the landmark decision is one that is personal. Despite receiving a 98th-percentile score on the Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT, I shared the experience with a staggering number of my Asian peers of receiving unexpected rejections from several top law schools when I applied. I am now a proud second-year student at the prestigious University of Texas-Austin School of Law. But the experience of possibly becoming reduced to a second-class citizen makes me especially grateful for our impartial Supreme Court, and legislators like Congressman Santos who support equal rights for the Asian community.