Princeton University attempts to block its admissions data from being released in the midst of questions about possible racial discrimination against Asian applicants.
Princeton sued the Department of Education to prevent it from releasing the sensitive admissions data, Buzzfeed News reported.
The admission documents include student files and information on how the university chooses its incoming freshman class. These documents could potentially expose the admissions practices of elite universities and, some argue, could hinder efforts towards affirmative action.
Students for Fair Admissions, an anti-affirmative action organization, is , which it believes will reveal bias against Asian applicants. A previous, undisclosed independent investigation by the DOE found that no such discrimination existed at Princeton.
1986 Wharton graduate Laurie Kopp Weingarten, co-founder and director of One-Stop College Counseling, works with a significant number of Asian applicants and, in her experience, has not witnessed such discrimination.
“I personally have not noticed discrimination against Asian Americans in my practice,” she said.
Weingarten noted that many of her Asian students have higher test scores than her non-Asian students.
“I think that contributes to the misunderstanding about discrimination,” she said. “Test scores are only one factor in the holistic process that highly competitive colleges employ.”
Weingarten believes that test scores are not the most important criteria in the admissions process and that other factors, such as talents or accomplishments, may cause one student to be admitted over another.
“When an Asian student with a 1600 SAT or 36 ACT is denied, and a non-Asian student with a 1500 SAT or 34 ACT is accepted, sometimes people assume that is discrimination,” she said.
Weingarten added that she has seen colleges throughout the country make great efforts to recruit Asian-American applicants.
“Colleges value diversity in their student body,” she said. “So at a school where the Asian population is low, there have been increased efforts to seek out competitive Asian-American applicants.”
Penn’s Admissions Office did not respond to requests for comment for this story.
Some students support Students for Fair Admissions’ movement to reveal the admissions process to the public.
Nursing freshman Annie Koo said that she thinks Princeton’s efforts to prevent the release of the admissions data is “sketchy.”
“It makes it seem like they have something to hide,” she said. “If it is actually harder for Asians to get into schools, I think that’s discriminatory.”
Wharton sophomore Victoria Yuan said she recognizes the potential of affirmative action to increase diversity, but believes it can lead to discrimination.
“Affirmative action has allowed Penn and other schools to embrace and increase diversity in their student population,” she said. “But the idea of using affirmative action to discriminate against someone because of their race is simply racism.”
Weingarten feels that the perceived issue stems from the decreasing acceptance rates of elite universities, which she believes affects all students, not just Asian applicants.
“What I am seeing is that admission to highly selective colleges is simply extremely difficult for everyone,” she said.
Weingarten noted that a large number of her Asian students have been accepted to Penn, as well as to other Ivy League schools and peer institutions.
“Just like my students of other races, the Asian-American applicants that have the complete package, that I believe will be reviewed favorably in a holistic process, have seen terrific results,” Weingarten said.
Princeton believes that releasing the admissions data would be harmful to its image. The DOE, however, completed its investigation and concluded that Princeton did not discriminate against students of any specific race.