Official MIT opinion on Korean-Americans

From the March 9, 2007 Tech. The story is about a Chinese kid, Jian Li, who has asked the U.S. Department of Education to review Princeton’s race-based admissions system. The fun part is from 1998, when Henry Park, a top student from a top prep school, applied to a bunch of high-priced colleges, including MIT, and was rejected. The MIT Dean of Admissions, Marilee Jones, said, never having met the guy, “It’s possible that Henry Park looked like a thousand other Koreans kids… yet another textureless math grind.”

7 thoughts on “Official MIT opinion on Korean-Americans

  1. No doubt it came as quite a shock to him and his parents that after all those years of trudging through the American education system and landing on “top”, he turned out just like a billion other people and was nothing special. That had to hurt.

    Regardless, it’s a bit sad that these obviously smart kids have been brainwashed to the point that they feel the need to sue (yes I know he technically didn’t sue) if their favorite pet university told them no. There are other fish in the sea and he can have a perfectly good career going somewhere else.

  2. 60 years ago, Ivies like Yale had the same policy of quotas or outright refusal for Jews. I’m sure they used the same rhetoric back then.

  3. The description could apply to any kid that entered MIT. Or it could apply to none of them. Either way, it’s a racist comment.

  4. If you leave out the “Korean”, you still got discrimination against “math” and “textureless”, although I can’t decide whether the “grind” refers to the kid or the process.

  5. I agree it was a horrible comment, BUT…. About two years ago there were postings written by a Dr. Chen to the education column at the Washington Post (sorry, don’t have the link) also claiming discrimination and that Harvard should have race blind admissions and if it did the class profile would look more like Berkeley, a large percentage of Asian students. The problem I find with both Dr. Chen and Jian Li’s approach is that it seems they have a desire to make the system more like admissions in Asia where there is an undisputed ranking of schools and only one exam gets you in. In some cases students in Asia even take a whole year off just to study for this exam. In societies which lack job mobility, once you are hired you are hired for life, where you went to college is a critical step to making or breaking your station in life. I also found that Asian society is completely lacking in any diversity perpective (but I came to that conclusion because they only served vanilla in the cafetera as the only ice cream choice 🙂 ). My suspicion is that they bring this viewpoint to America and decide that grades and SAT scores are what counts and the only thing that counts and if they got perfect grades they should get into the top schools. They are trying to inflict an Asian style educational and admission system here in America. I totally agree with the admissions dean that there should be more dimensionality to a candidate than only grades and SATs no matter how great the scores are. I could probably name 10 things in under 3 seconds I would look for in a candidate that are not perfect grades and SATs. There was a Wall Street Journal editorial by none other than Dr. Ben Carson (pediatric neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins who grew up as a ghetto kid in Detroit), about how the schools shouldn’t be rejecting students with 3.5 gpas who grew up in Apalachia or had hardships of some kind. Character, passion, and leadership used to count for something.

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