Op-Ed: I’m an Asian American Harvard grad. Affirmative action helped me get an HBS, and the last thing I’ve ever wanted is for Harvard to throw me out as it did one of their own — a woman.
I want to know why it took us until 2018 to go from the last Asian American to the first. Why is it a crime to bring together people of different races, backgrounds, and sexuality? What about the rest of the world?
My Harvard graduate degree helped me get an elite post-graduate education in a world where people are judged based on a race, their religion, their sexual orientation, and other personal habits. I’ve learned that the university is the same for everyone, based on the way it treats and uses individuals.
Harvard has historically used affirmative action as a means of keeping its class white. The institution doesn’t discriminate on the basis of race because of a 1950 Supreme Court decision called “keyhole” surgery, but Harvard used racial quotas to ensure its graduates would contain a certain amount of white people: one in 20.
But now the institution has decided it now has a diversity problem, and it’s trying to fix it by using another tactic: race-blind admissions. Harvard is open to applying for the 2020 class without considering applicants from the same race, sex, or nationality.
I used to think Harvard could still change by acknowledging that it has a problem. I thought it could take the steps of acknowledging that it was in fact racist, and then working to change. But it’s becoming apparent that the institution is changing so quickly and so poorly that I’m not going to wait around to see what it does or does not do. I don’t think Harvard has any room for any further racial discrimination in admissions as I have been taught that Harvard’s goal is “to create an educated, virtuous, and prosperous citizenry.” To that end, Harvard must provide a safe environment for students from every racial and economic background.
I do not support quotas or racial-diversity programs. But I also am a person of color.