In 2004, Princeton researchers published a controversial study demonstrating that Asian American college applicants scoring above 1500 on the SAT were penalized 50 SAT points in admissions considerations. African American applicants scoring above 1500, in contrast, were given a bonus of 230 points, Hispanic applicants were given a bonus of 185 points, and legacy candidates were given a bonus of 160 points.
Two of the same Princeton researchers followed up with a 2005 study finding that doing away with affirmative action would result in a decrease of African American admissions at elite colleges by nearly two-thirds, from 33.7 percent to 12.2 percent, while the acceptance rate for Hispanic applicants probably would be cut in half, from 26.8 percent to 12.9 percent. Asian Americans would pick up these losses, with their admissions rates rising from 17.6 to 23.4 percent. White admissions would look relatively unchanged.
there are so many highly qualified applicants to Princeton that the university rejects many [including Asians] with stellar if not perfect academic records. And OCR found that Asians could also be found among some of the less than perfect applicants, as well. (From Inside Higher Ed, 9/24/2015).
Princeton appealed to the rubric of broad-based campus diversity where race was just one factor. In other words, a highly accomplished Asian American violinist with a 4.0 GPA and 1580 SAT score might have been admitted were it not for the fact there were 1,000 other such Asian American applicants.
On its face, this explanation makes sense -- a diversity of backgrounds, skills, and interests is arguably desirable on a college campus. Yet, this explanation also begs the question of why the academic standard for Asian Americans is then raised. Why not simply look for other desirable traits among Asian American applicants?
Whatever the answer, it is clear that universities have not yet solved the conundrum of campus diversity. Nor has the Asian American community. Asian American high school students are being advised to look "less Asian" on their college applications. The Asian American community is also ambivalent on its stance on affirmative action, given the disaffirmative effects it putatively has on Asians.
Last Thursday's OCR report, rather than resolve the issue, is sure to stoke the debate.