Harvard University has been using the same criteria to weigh social characteristics in accepting Asian applicants today as it did a century ago in accepting Jews back then. One-hundred-years ago, Harvard purposed to exclude Jews, Jason L. Riley writes in the WSJ.
Jews “Different” and “Peculiar”
Back then, Harvard argued that Jews were excellent students with deficient personalities. Their social characteristics were described as “different” and “peculiar.” They were accused of being clannish and focusing on their studies to a fault.
Jews, Not a Good Fit
Harvard maintained that it was trying to create a certain type of environment on campus, and Jews were a poor fit. “No one suggested the Jewish students threatened academic standards,” wrote Stephen Steinberg in a 1971 Commentary magazine article about Jewish quotas in the Ivy League. “Rather it was argued that the college stood for other things, and that social standards were as important and valid as intellectual ones.” Harvard is still making that argument, and the courts are still indulging it.
Equal Treatment for All?
So, asks Jason Riley, do we want preference for favored groups? Or do we (America) want equal treatment of individuals? “We can’t have both,” concludes Mr. Riley.
Harvard, with $39 B Endowment Subject to the Civil Rights Act
Harvard is a private school with $39 billion in its endowment. Yet Harvard receives federal funding. That, as Mr. Riley notes, makes it subject to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlaws racial discrimination.
Supreme Court rulings dating to the 1970s ban “racial balancing” and racial quotas in college admissions. But the court also has said schools may use an applicant’s race as a “plus factor” so long as it isn’t the determining one. The upshot is that colleges find endless ways to discriminate racially without being too obvious about it. And we get rulings like Judge Burroughs’s, which pretends there are “no quotas” in place at Harvard while acknowledging that the school “uses the racial makeup of admitted students to help determine how many students it should admit overall.”
Harvard’s Holistic Approach to Excluding Jews
Harvard boasts that it vets applicants using a “holistic” approach that weighs social characteristics as well as test scores. What often goes unmentioned is that Harvard and other schools developed this approach a century ago for the express purpose of excluding Jews.
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