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Kenji Horigome’s college application featured a 4.2 GPA, challenging coursework and a compelling narrative of losing his father as a boy and struggling to make ends meet with his single mother, a low-wage Koreatown restaurant worker. But he didn’t bother to apply to Harvard or Yale.
“I heard that Asians have to get perfect SATs and perfect GPAs and still wouldn’t get in,” said Horigome, now a first-year student at Harvey Mudd College. “Friends say our GPAs are way higher than non-Asians but they’re getting in more than us. It’s created a feeling of unfairness.”
The question of whether Asian Americans experience bias in college admissions captured the national spotlight this week during intense arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court over whether to abolish affirmative action. Students for Fair Admissions, a nonprofit opposed to racial preferences, has alleged that Harvard and the University of North Carolina violate constitutional guarantees of equal protection by considering race in admissions decisions — and that the Ivy League campus specifically discriminates against Asian Americans.
“Race is a minus for Asians, a group that continues to face immense racial discrimination in this country. Asians should be getting into Harvard more than whites, but they don’t because Harvard gives them significantly lower personal ratings,” the group’s attorney, Cameron T. Norris, told the court.
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