Meet the Asian-American teen behind Supreme Court case that could end affirmative action

Meet Jon Wang, 18, a Florida man who was rejected from six elite universities despite scoring 1590 on the SAT and boasting a 4.65 high school GPA.

“The top-tier schools I applied to were MIT, CalTech, Princeton, Harvard, Carnegie-Mellon, and U.C. Berkeley,” he said this week to Fox News.

Not a single one of these schools accepted him. Why? Because of his race.

Granted, he knew this would happen.

“They all told me that it’s tougher to get in, especially as an Asian American. I just took it as gospel,” he said, referencing his friends and school guidance counselors.

That’s why he’s now part of a lawsuit filed by Students for Fair Admissions, a group hoping to bring an end to the racist policy known as affirmative action.

Filed years ago, the suit accuses Harvard University and the University of North Carolina of discriminating against Asian American applicants. The suit has since been broken up by the courts into two separate suits.

“At stake in the Harvard case is whether the university violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by discriminating against Asian-American applicants. The UNC case, in contrast, looks at that school’s unwillingness to adopt a ‘race-neutral alternative,'” according to Fox News.

“Either of the two cases could overturn [the] 2003 precedent case Grutter v. Bollinger, wherein the court ultimately ruled that the use of race as an admissions factor was not unconstitutional as long as it was narrowly tailored to further the compelling interests of obtaining the educational benefits available in a diverse student body,” Fox News notes.

Wang told Fox News that he was initially hesitant about taking a stand against affirmative action, which is supported by the establishment.

“I was scared of getting backlash on social media for it [raising awareness about unfair admissions]. For fighting for what I think is a really important issue,” he said.

But then he discovered Students for Fair Admissions.

“I gave them my test scores, and then they must’ve ran the model on that. [They] told me I had a 20 percent chance of getting accepted to Harvard as an Asian American and a 95 percent chance as an African American,” he said.

And now that he’s in it to win it, he isn’t backing down.

“I feel like if I’m looking back 10 or 20 years from now, if I didn’t do it [speak up], I’d be pretty upset with myself,” he said.

Luckily, he’s backed by congressional Republicans like Sen. Tom Cotton:

But will it be enough to convince the Supreme Court, which is currently reviewing the case, to make the right decision? That remains to be seen.

Wang isn’t alone in complaining about affirmative action. A recent BBC report also unveiled the case of Rutvij Holay, a 17-year-old whose family immigrated to the U.S. from India and “started from scratch.”

“With a resume boasting high test results, work volunteering for political organisations, prestigious leadership awards and the ability to speak five languages, he entered the admissions process with confidence. He says he applied to 35 different schools,” according to the BBC.

Yet just like Wang, he was rejected from all the top schools, and likely again solely because of his race.

“The worry that myself and many other Asian Americans have is that when admission officer sees Patel, when he sees a Lee, when he sees a Kim, when he sees any Asian last name, basically the image that comes up is kid just sitting in his school on classes studying away math, and not doing anything that has an impact on society,” he told the BBC.

Sounds racist, no?

Yet affirmative action advocates say the racist policy is necessary to enhance so-called “diversity.”

“I don’t believe that you can learn as much from people who are similar to you as you can from people who are different to you, and from people who have had different life experiences from you,” Chelsea Wang, a Chinese American affirmative action supporter, told the BBC.

In the middle between the likes of Jon Wang and Chelsea Wang, no relation, is Sophia Lam, an Asian high school student who opposes affirmative action but supports so-called “diversity.” Her solution, therefore, is affirmative action based on socioeconomic conditions.

“If the current policy is struck down, colleges seeking to maintain a diverse student body will be compelled to focus on socioeconomic status instead of race. Doing so can result in racial diversity, but in a fairer way,” she wrote in a recent column for the Houston Chronicle.

“At least nine states have already banned the use of race in college admissions policies, including California, Florida and Michigan. By focusing on socioeconomic factors, public universities where racial preferences were banned have been able to regain some measure of racial diversity,” she added.


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Vivek Saxena


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