The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 56.0°F | Overcast

Alumnus accuses Berkeley of having anti-Asian quotas

By Reuven M. Lerner

and Irene C. Kuo

Arthur Hu '80 has filed a formal complaint with the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights against the University of California at Berkeley for discriminating against Asian-Americans. Hu, an activist against affirmative action in university admissions, charged the school with using "quotas and

differential admissions standards" to turn away Asian-American students in order to implement affirmative action.

Because schools would rather not reduce the number of white students, he said, and because they have a limited number of spaces in each class, they turn away qualified Asian-Americans to make room for underrepresented minorities.

Many Asian-Americans in the MIT community oppose Hu. "Affirmative action does not have to conflict with the `merit-based' plans touted by its opponents," said Vivian Wu, a research fellow with the Community Fellows Program in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. The solution lies in increasing student enrollment across all racial groups, she stressed. Moreover, Asian-Americans have benefited from affirmative action, according to Wu, who is also a member of the newly formed Asian-American Caucus at MIT.

"When there were no blacks on campus, there were no Asians either. Asians got there because of black student activism. Hu never mentions this point.'

But elite schools like MIT and Harvard may be more resistant to such change, Chan pointed out. "These schools are `elite' by virtue of the fact that a lot of people apply for a few spaces," he said

Nonetheless, Hu's complaint has prompted the OCR to investigate Berkeley admissions policies.

(Please turn to page 9)

(Continues from page 1)

In his complaint, Hu accused both Berkeley and the University of California at Los Angeles of using "a quota to fix the number of whites in 1984." Hu also accused Harvard University, saying that Asian-Americans were accepted "at rates 20 to 30 percent less than whites starting in 1982 and ending in 1986."

If Hu's accusation is proved valid, and if Berkeley refuses to reform their admission policies, the school could be cut off from federal financial aid, according to OCR spokesman Jack McGrath.

Berkeley Chancellor Ira Michael Heyman denied the allegations. "These are the right students to be here, and that they will do our state and the world proud when they go on to leadership positions in all walks of life."

Harvard's director of admissions released a similar statement, saying that Harvard "has worked hard to enroll so many outstanding Asian-Americans," and said that they have "met with great academic and extracurricular success after enrolling at Harvard and Radcliffe." He added that the discrepancy in admissions figures was partially due to "very few Asian-Americans in our applicant pool who are alumni/ae children or prospective varsity atheletes."

The Director of Admissions at UCLA did not return our telephone calls.

McGrath said that the OCR is required by law to "investigate all complete complaints," and that Hu's letter left them with "no choice" but to investigate Berkeley. He added that Harvard and UCLA are under similar investigations, but that those reviews were begun based on "information received from regional offices," not because of Hu's letter. Hu, however, noted that his letter was "the first written complaint that [the OCR] used" in the Harvard investigation.

McGrath said that the OCR receives over 3000 formal complaints each year, every one of which must be investigated. Another 200 investigations are the result of discussions with "com-

munity groups, the NAACP, advocates for the handicapped, women's rights groups," and local ethnic groups, he added. After the OCR determines that a compliance review is in order, the school is notified of the upcoming investigation, he said.

Raymond Colvig, a public information officer at Berkeley, said that the school could be cut off from Department of Education financial assistance if they were found to have been discriminating against any one group, but added that "we don't believe the department will find that we have violated the law."

Colvig said that Berkeley will be changing its admissions policy this year, because "we now have a fully integrated student body," with "no ethnic majority in the entire student body." He said that Berkeley was the "first university in the country without an ethnic majority in the student body."

He also said that Berkeley will be in "good shape to cooperate, because we have done an enormous amount of study on admissions here." The school's admissions policy has been reviewed by several different committees in the recent past.

Effect on MIT admissions

policy should be minimal

Michael Behnke, the director of admissions at MIT, called the admission of Asian-Americans a "serious issue." He added that "it is not apparent" whether the investigations will affect MIT policies, since "Asian-Americans do not have a lower acceptance rate"

than whites. He noted Berkeley's "complicated system for allocating places" in each class, and said that "everybody has been arguing continually" about the school's policies.

Behnke said that "other admissions people" are worried that Asian-Americans will "get the idea that they are unwelcome at schools which have selective, private admissions." He added that the media have "taken the tone that there is some sort of quota" against them. But though "one could argue that other institutions have some sort of quota," he denied any "anti-Asian feeling" in university admissions offices.

McGrath said that all universities receiving federal funds are potential targets of investigations, and that MIT could be reviewed if they use such funds. If a violation is found, the university and the OCR enter negotiations. He noted that negotiations cannot "result in anything other than full compliance" with anti-discrimination laws.

Hu complained that "the [MIT] administration has never touched" the issue of lower standards for minority entrance, and that "every time someone at MIT has done a study like that, it has been suppressed." He said that if schools such as MIT will use different criteria to admit different groups, then those standards should be made public.

Hu also called it "unfair" to minority applicants to expect that their applications would be judged differently from those of non-minority applicants. Blacks who are accepted to MIT, he said, are smarter than any other black college students in Massachusetts, except for those at Harvard and at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. "They simply are not as smart as the students in the rest of this school," he said. Problems arise when blacks at MIT are "not told that they are being put in an environment where the average person has scored 100 points higher than they on the SAT."

He added that MIT no longer releases separate SAT scores for ethnic and racial groups because of questions he raised.

McGrath said that he expects "to close the Harvard and UCLA" complaints "before the end of the school year." The

UCLA investigation includes three undergraduate and 42 graduate programs, he said, and may take many months to complete.

MIT students strongly

oppose Hu's view

Participants in last night's meeting of the AAC distanced themselves from Hu. Hei-Wai Chan G said, "Hu does not represent the Asian-American community; the views he puts forth are his personal ones." He added, "If Hu wanted to be on the MIT Corporation, I'm sure there would be a major effort to prevent his election. He would not be qualified to represent Asian-American interests in that capacity."

"Hu is a right-wing mouth," summarized Wu., a research fellow with the Community Fellows Program in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and a member of the AAC. The political right has traditionally opposed affirmative action and has a powerful weapon in minorities like Hu, she noted.

Wu noted that "when there were no blacks on campus, there were no Asians either. Asians got there because of black student activism. Hu never mentions this point."

Chan believes that Asians and whites should be admitted on an equal basis and already are. "That's why 24 percent of the undergraduate population at MIT is Asian," he said.

"Admissions is a more pressing question for blacks and Hispanics," he said. "I think the problem at MIT lies in that the admissions office has difficulty recruiting such students, not that there are not enough spaces."

But elite schools like MIT and Harvard may be more resistant to such change, Chan pointed out. "These schools are `elite' by virtue of the fact that a lot of people apply for a few spaces," he said.

"Hu does not represent the Asian-American community. The views he puts forth are his personal ones," said Hei-Wai Chan G, a member of the newly formed Asian American Caucus at MIT. The AAC seeks to promote Asian-American awareness among Asian students and the greater community; one of its first goals is to establish an Asian-American studies program on campus.

"If Hu wanted to be on the MIT Corporation, I'm sure there would be a major effort to prevent his election," Chan said. "He would not be qualified to represent Asian-American interests in that capacity."

"Hu is a right-wing mouth," summarized Vivian Wu, a research fellow with the Community Fellows Program in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and a member of the AAC. The right has traditionally opposed affirmative action and has a powerful weapon in minorities like Hu, she noted.

"Hu's position confuses minorities. His [existence] takes the white racist out of the picture," she said.

Chan believes that Asians and whites should be admitted on an equal basis and already are. "That's why 24 percent of the undergraduate population at MIT is Asian," he said.

"Admissions is a more pressing question for blacks and Hispanics," he said. "I think the problem at MIT lies in that the admissions office has difficulty recruiting such students, not that there are not enough spaces."

"MIT is sufficiently flexible to accommodate blacks and Hispanics. The faculty to student ratio is low -- about 1 to ten. MIT does have room to expand.

Should there not be enough spaces at a school, Chan thinks that the admissions office should cut the number of both Asians and whites. "Asians should not be singled out," he stressed.

"His columns in Asian Week have provoked rebuttals. His views have become well-known because he is aggressive. To give him publicity is to give him too much play," Chan added.