Emil Guillermo: April Fool? Post-affirmative action admissions numbers at Harvard show post-SCOTUS diversity is accidental at best

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Finally, Harvard has announced it has achieved the perfect racial balance in its new freshman class!

Of course, you know that’s an April Fool’s joke.

But this is true. Now, we know how it feels for Asian Americans to be used as a tool to end policies for racial equity.

No one knew what would happen after the Supreme Court took away affirmative action from higher ed’s diversity tool kit, essentially making admissions as color-blind as it can be.

But now that the first Harvard class has been admitted since the SCOTUS decision, we are in a strange place that should have been expected.

No one knows exactly where Harvard is on the most important matters of racial equity. That’s what happens when you are forced to buy into the color-blind fantasy. Instead of fairness, we have diversity as a great accident, if it can be achieved at all.

Data is not publicly reported by the school. It’s apparently not in a document that can be discoverable in court, or that would make a school liable of violating the law.

It’s just not mentioned or reported anywhere officially by Harvard.

This is what the colorblind wanted, of course. To erase all the equity paths for people of color and leave us all in the dark.

The numbers released this week merely say that 1,245 applicants gained admission on Thursday to next fall’s freshman class. Add the 692 early admissions from December and the grand total is 1,937 members of new class.

That’s out of 54, 008 applicants, which puts Harvard at a 3.6 percent admission rate.

Harvard is still exclusive compared to all schools, but not as exclusive as other Ivies that saw its applications soar.

At Harvard, the number of applicants fell from 56,937, a drop of 5.1 percent from the previous year. And when compared to two years ago, the drop is 11.8 percent, indicating perhaps a decline in interest in Harvard.

People didn’t want to go to Harvard? That could be a good thing. Go to your local community college instead.

Or was that because of the Students for Fair Admissions lawsuit?

Or maybe it’s because of other factors that have come into play since the Supreme Court decision that put an end affirmative action.

Without the data, it’s hard to tell anything definitively. For example, no one can say if the numbers of Asian students is above the high 30 percent level, as it is at some of the University of California schools. Nor can it be said if the number of Asian students has dropped.

And what of other groups, white, Black, and Hispanic?No one can say if the numbers of Black and Hispanic acceptances rose or declined. Or if the lack of affirmative action efforts kept down the number of Black and Hispanic applicants. All we’ll have are the unofficial numbers of campus organizations, not the official stats.

One thing has come up since the SCOTUS ruling, and that’s the treatment by the school of its first Black president, Claudine Gay, and the controversy over how the school dealt with the Hamas attack on Israel. That could have impacted applications from both Jews concerned about antisemitism, or pro-Palestinian peoples concerned about their place in the Harvard community.

All interesting questions, but academic as well. And this is what the enemies of affirmative action wanted. When they successfully ended race-conscious admissions, it put us back to where things were in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s--at the start of the move toward equity, without a reasonable way of how to target the problem.

Sure, Harvard has class and gender information. Harvard’s incoming class has 20.7 percent who have qualified for federal Pell grants for low-income students. And there are 20.5 percent who are first generation college students. Immigrants? People of color or poor whites? Who knows?

We do know that 53.1 percent are women, 46.9 percent are men.

But that’s it.

We are now blessed with an ignorance that has eliminated the race problem because how can you fix a problem that you can’t quantify?

And because we’re blind to race, we are unable to effectively target groups that may need help.

So some groups go unaided, but we have left affirmative action intact for the group that needs it the least--whites with legacy ties as alumni and/or donors.

It’s hard not to be mournful of where we could have been in terms of diversity if we hadn’t wasted years on the lawsuit filed by the Students for Fair Admissions, the mostly Asian American students who were duped and used by anti-civil rights careerists opposed to affirmative action policies.

Just think of our progress if we were all honestly focused on creating the equity we desire in higher ed and in our country.

The admission numbers at Harvard remind us that the lawsuit wasn’t about education or fairness; it was simply a political exercise in response to the country’s rise in numbers of people of color, and the decline of whites.

How do you fix that? Anti-affirmative action advocates knew instinctively the only way to favor whites was to go color-blind.

And now anything that happens in terms of diversity is a happy accident.

The new Harvard numbers only prove that the SCOTUS ruling has left us further than ever from where we want to be in an inclusive and diverse America.

And for that, regrettably, some Asian Americans willingly played the fool.


It’s a topic in my new “Emil Amok” show (“Emil Amok, Lost NPR Host, Wiley Filipino, Vegan Transdad”) at the New York City Fringe Festival, first show April 5 at 9:50 pm, with other times until April 21st,at Under St. Marks Theater, 94 St. Marks Place, Manhattan.

It’s a show about my Asian American Filipino life, and how history and politics get in the way. There’s a lot of pain. But that means there’s a lot of laughs too.

Tickets are sliding scale, pay what you want, but a portion of profits will go to honor AALDEF’s 50years of service to the community. Here’s the link.

And if you’re in the Philippines, China, Hawaii or San Francisco, and can’t make it to the show live, there’s a livestream available too. Hope to see you in person!


NOTE: I will talk about this column and other matters on “Emil Amok’s Takeout,” my AAPI micro-talk show. Live @2p Pacific. Livestream on Facebook; my YouTube channel; and Twitter. Catch the recordings there or on