135+ AAPI Community Organizations Stand Up for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education

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As individuals and more than 135 organizations across the United States that serve and represent Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities, we believe that equal opportunity is a cherished principle in American society that must be protected. Our universities should reflect our diverse democracy and expand opportunities for those students who have overcome significant barriers. Rather than letting ourselves be divided, we must come together to ensure increased opportunities and success for all students.

Affirmative action does not constitute quotas

Unfortunately, there have been attempts by some to engage in divisive wedge politics by using misguided, misleading tactics to attack equal opportunity by calling for an end to race sensitive admissions policies at educational institutions such as Harvard University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Opponents of affirmative action have wrongfully and disingenuously equated affirmative action with quotas.

The truth is that affirmative action does not constitute quotas.

Affirmative action does not exclude or limit the admission of students from any specific racial or ethnic background. Indeed, the United States Supreme Court long ago prohibited quotas in the higher education admissions process, including banning limits on the admission or enrollment of any racial or ethnic group.

To be clear, we oppose quotas, discrimination, and bias against any racial or ethnic group.

Affirmative action promotes equal opportunity for all

We support affirmative action which, as noted above, does not constitute quotas, discrimination, or bias against Asian Americans.

Currently, affirmative action at universities consists of race sensitive holistic admissions policies. These policies promote equal opportunity in a society where racism still exists and racial barriers continue to unfairly limit educational opportunities for students of color. For example, our schools are more segregated today than they were in the late 1960s. Students of color, particularly African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Southeast Asians, are much more likely to attend under-resourced K-12 schools. Implicit bias and stereotyping also further impact and harm the educational learning environments and opportunities of students of color. Universities should consider these factors when reviewing applications for admissions.

All students benefit from the racially and ethnically diverse learning environments fostered by race sensitive holistic admissions processes, including the benefits of increased cross-racial understanding, reduction of stereotyping and isolation of minority students, and training for a diverse workforce and society.

Affirmative action simply takes into account whether an applicant has overcome significant obstacles and institutional barriers, such as racial and ethnic discrimination

Affirmative action simply takes into account whether an applicant has overcome racial and ethnic adversity as one of several factors in a holistic review of an applicant’s qualifications, leadership, and potential. Holistic admissions processes also consider, for example, whether an applicant has endured poverty or is the first in her family to attend college.

Moreover, in the context of college admissions, “merit” cannot be quantified by grade point average, SAT scores, or number of activities alone. Instead, life experiences such as overcoming racial and ethnic adversity are critical factors in a student’s leadership and potential contribution to the university and to our society. In addition, numbers, like grade point averages and standardized test scores, are not colorblind and often reflect and magnify K-12 educational inequities.

Equal opportunity strengthens our democracy

Affirmative action policies help to level the playing field and promote diverse university learning environments that are essential in our multiracial and multicultural society. Our democracy benefits from a diverse and educated populace and workforce.

Those who are truly committed to equal educational opportunity should demonstrate real leadership and reinvest in higher education throughout the nation to expand access, affordability, equity, and student success. Decades of disinvestment in higher education across the country have made college less accessible for all students, especially students of color. We call for unity in standing up for the future of our youth and realizing the promise of equal opportunity for all in the United States.

Signed by the following organizations:

18 Million Rising
American Educational Research Association: Research on the Education of Asian and Pacific Americans, Special Interest Group
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – ALC
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Chicago
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles
After Bruce
Ainahau O Kaleponi Hawaiian Civic Club
Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment
Anakbayan Inland Empire
Anakbayan Los Angeles
Angry Asian Man
API Equality – Northern California
API Equality – Los Angeles
Arab American Action Network (AAAN)
Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Los Angeles
Asian American Intervarsity Fellowship
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
Asian American and Pacific Islander Research Coalition (ARC)
Asian American Psychological Association – Boston
Asian American Psychological Association – Phoenix
Asian American Student Union of UMD
Asian American Student Union of Scripps College
Asian and Latino Community Services, Inc.
Asian Counseling and Referral Service
Asian Law Alliance
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Los Angeles Chapter
Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center
Asian Pacific American Network
Asian Pacific Americans for Action (APAA) at Cornell University
Asian Pacific Americans for Progress
Asian Pacific American Student Alliance, Rice University
Asian Pacific American Women Lawyers Alliance
Asian Pacific Coalition at UCLA
Asian Pacific Environmental Network
Asian Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance
Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council: A3PCON
Asian Resources, Inc.
Asian Student Conference
Asian Students in America (ASIA), Syracuse University
Asian Students in America (ASIA), University of Southern Florida
CAACTUS: Asian Student Alliance, University of Denver
CAAAV-Organizing Asian Communities
California Federation of Teachers
CHAI | Counselors Helping (South) Asian/Indians, Inc.
Chapman University Asian Pacific Student Association
Chinese American Service League
Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles
Chinese for Affirmative Action
Chinese Progressive Association – San Francisco
Coalition of API American Collaborating Together to Unite the Southwest (CAACTUS)
Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community
Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement
Daiso Japan
East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU)
Educated Men with Meaningful Messages
Empowering Pacific Islander Communities
Equal Justice Society
Families in Good Health
Filipino Advocates for Justice
Filipino Migrant Center
Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries
GABRIELA Los Angeles
Guam Communications Network
Habi Arts
Hamline University
Hmong American Partnership
Hmong Health Collaborative
Hmong National Development, Inc.
Hmong Women’s Heritage Association
Hyphen magazine
Japanese American Citizens League
K-12 News Network
K.W Lee Center for Leadership
Khmer Girls in Action
Korean American Resource and Cultural Center – Chicago
Korean-American Student Association of Florida State University
Korean Resource Center – Los Angeles
Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance
Lao Family Community Empowerment, Inc.
Laotian American National Alliance (LANA)
Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc.
Little Tokyo Roots
Little Tokyo Service Center CDC
Marshallese Educational Initiative
May Day Trans Queer Contingent
Merced Lao Family Community, Inc.
Midwest Asian American Students Union
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium
Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander Alliance
New York City Asian American Student Conference (NYCAASC)
Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress (NCRR)
Northwestern University Asian Pacific American Coalition
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates
OCA – Eastern Virginia Chapter
OCA – Greater Los Angeles
OCA – Las Vegas
OCA – Sacramento
Office of Institutional Diversity, Harvey Mudd College
Pacific Islanders’ Association of California State University, Long Beach
Pacific Islander Health Partnership (PIHP)
Papa Ola Lokahi
Philippine American Association of Utah
Pilipino Workers Center of Southern California
Pilipino Academic Student Services (PASS)
Polynesian Community Center – Alaska
QAPA: Queer API Alliance of New England
South Asian American Voices For Impact (SAAVI)
Samoan American Youth of Orange County
SEARAC – Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
South Asian American Policy & Research Institute (SAAPRI)
South Asian Helpline & Referral Agency (SAHARA)
South Asian Network
Southeast Asian Coalition
Southeast Asian Community Alliance
Student Coalition for Asian Pacific Empowerment of University of Southern California
SUNY Albany Asian American Alliance
Taulama for Tongans
Teach for America
The Center for APA Women
Tuesday Night Project
UCLA Center for EthnoCommunications
United States Palestinian Community Network (USPCN)
USC Asian Pacific American Student Services
USC Haneulsori
West Coast Asian Pacific Islander Student Union (WCAPSU)

List of supporters as of 5/14/15; click here for an updated list.

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