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UC San Francisco Diversity Office Deems Some Asians to be URMs

By David Bernstein

As regular VC readers know, I've written a book about how America's racial classifications developed and how the classifications are defined and enforced. One of the many arbitrary aspects of the classifications is that they lump together "Asian American" groups that have nothing in common--such as Bangladeshi and Cambodian Americans--into the same classification.

In higher education, because "Asian Americans" on average are "overrerpresented," at best members of that classification do not benefit from URM status, and at worst are  subject to discrimination in admissions.

It turns out, however, that if one digs deep into the data, one finds that the "overrepresentation" of Asian Americans is primarily a product of the academic success of Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and (to a lesser extent) Korean Americans. Other Asian groups are anywhere from mildly "overrepresented" compared to their share of the population, or underrepresented.

Recognizing this dynamic, UCSF decided to include Filipinos, Hmong, and Vietnamese as URMs in its "working definition" of that category. But this raises its own questions. Why those three groups, and not Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Cambodians, Laotions, and other Asian subgroups who also are likely "underrepresented" in higher education, certainly relative to Filipinos, who have among the highest average incomes of American ethnic groups?

For that matter, why only break down the Asian category? Some Hispanic subgroups are "underrepresented" relative to population, but I'm not sure that Cubans Americans are; I'm pretty confident that Spanish and Argentine Americans are not, though it's hard to get such data.

Among African Americans, Nigerian immigrants and their children are almost certainly "overrepresented," so why not break down the African American/black classification more finely?

For Native Americans, why not distinguish between, say, those who grew up on reservations and within a Native American community and, say, tribal members who are only a fraction of Indian descent and have few if any ties to their ancestral tribe? (One can, for example, be less than 1/5000 Cherokee and still be a member.)

And of course, "white" is not a homogenous category. Appalachians, for example, are the least-well-off of any American group that anyone bother to study, other than Indians living on reservations. Why do they not count as "underrepresented?"

In short, UCSF's instinct, that it's unfair to lump all "Asian Americans" together, is sound. But the same instinct, followed to its logical conclusion, tells us that all the classifications used by USCF and other universities arbitrary lump people with vastly different backgrounds, experiences, and average group success together.

The post UC San Francisco Diversity Office Deems Some Asians to be URMs appeared first on Reason.com.

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Dive Deeper:
With delimitation over, a look at the slate for J&K
There is every likelihood of the delimitation report only compounding the political issues for the former State
'Outer Range' star Tamara Podemski explains her cliffhanger ending and Season 2 hopes
Tamara Podemski shares new details about Sheriff Joy’s motivations and why she resists calling 'Outer Range' science fiction.
COVID took many in the prime of life, leaving families to pick up the pieces
In the U.S., people of color have been more likely to die at younger ages, especially among lower-income communities. That's…
Expert tips on saving for a holiday, wedding or mortgage deposit during cost of living crisis
Six of the most popular savings goals and how to achieve them.
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Bitter feuds and crypto ties: Inside one of the most expensive Democratic primaries
The race in the newly created district has seen party infighting, mysterious ties to cryptocurrency and a complaint to the…
Orthodox Christian churches are drawing in far-right American converts
Orthodox Christianity is a relatively small faith tradition in the U.S., but in recent years it has expanded to new…
Get all your news in one place