Do Asian Americans Benefit From Race-Blind College Admissions Policies?
Opponents of affirmative action in the Fisher Supreme Court case claim that race-conscious admissions policies discriminate against Asian American applicants and impose a “higher bar” in college admissions than for other students. In their amicus brief supporting the plaintiff in the Fisher case, 80-20 states that, “Asian American enrollment rises dramatically when race-conscious admission standards are eliminated. When Californians ratified Calif. Const. art. I, § 31 (“Proposition 209”), barring all invidious racial discrimination in college admissions, [University of California] Berkeley saw Asian freshman enrollment rise from 37.3 percent in 1995, to 43.57 percent in 2000, to 46.59 percent by 2005.” Like 80-20, the Asian American Legal Foundation (AALF) also presents undergraduate enrollment data at California public universities as evidence that Asian Americans benefited from race-blind policies in their amicus brief.5 This research brief evaluates the claim that Proposition 209 caused an increase in Asian American enrollment numbers in the University of California (UC).6 An analysis of empirical data indicates there was no direct causal relationship between increased Asian American enrollment numbers in the UC and the implementation of race-blind admissions policies in 1998.