Discrimination against Asian Students on Campus

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Racial discrimination among college students is an issue that is raising concern in our modern society. According to Williams (2009), the United States has a long history of racial discrimination targeted against the minorities. Institutions of learning are some of the places where racial discrimination is perfected in North America. Recent studies have shown that the fight against racial discrimination has achieved massive success. The society is becoming more knowledgeable about diversity and this has helped in promoting tolerance among people from various racial backgrounds.

However, Smith (2009) notes that students of color and those from the minority groups still feel that racial discrimination is still common in colleges. It may not be in the form of direct abuses or acts of aggression as it used to be in the past. However, the use of stereotypical worlds associated with certain groups of people is still common among the students, teachers, and other stakeholders. It is important to note that any form of discrimination on a student has a serious negative impact on students’ ability to integrate with others and achieve success. In this study, the researcher is interested in investigating whether there is discrimination against Asian students on campus.


Arguments Supporting Existence of Discrimination against Asian Students

Discrimination is one of the issues that have been identified as a major cause of conflict among students on campus. Erbe (2014) says that discrimination is brought about by the perception that a group of people are superior to another. In most of the cases, the minorities always find themselves victims in such settings. The issue of discrimination in the United States is not anything new. The African Americans were once the worst affected group.

They are still faced with discrimination in their learning institutions, but as Mounk (2014) says, a new group of people has joined them. Recent studies show that Asian students are now facing discrimination in the United States and Canada, and this affects them in many ways. The perpetual foreigner stereotype is increasingly becoming popular in North America. The Americans have failed to embrace this group of students as part of their society.

Asian students are still seen as foreigners who are in the United States temporarily for the purpose of accomplishing their academics before returning to their home countries. Others still view them as foreigners who are not only in the country to have access to the quality education but also to compete with the locals for the job opportunities. This has caused a rift among the majority Whites and Asian students. This discrimination does not only affect students who went to the United States for college education from their country of origin, but also Asian American students. In fact, there is a thin line between an Asian American and an Asian who has come to the United States purposefully for studies. They are classified into one group and are considered inferior to the Whites. It is important to look at the evidence which may confirm that Asian American students are actually discriminated against in institutions of higher learning.

Utterances by members of the society

According to Woodrow (2015) discrimination against the minority that is common in college stems from the members of the society. Children grow up knowing that they are Whites, African Americans, or Asian Americans. They are taught that their race determines their positions in the society. If they are Whites, they grow up knowing that they are superior to any other race in the country. This negative perception has been witnessed a number of times in this country. Sometimes discriminatory words come from people in leadership, individuals who are expected to unite all the members of the society irrespective of their social or racial backgrounds.

Donald Trump is one of the leading Republican presidential candidates in the upcoming primaries. This is one of the most popular political parties in the United States, and anyone who wins the primaries to be its torchbearer has high chances of becoming the next president of the United States of America. In the recent polls, Trump is leading other candidates, the fact that there are chances he may clinch the top position as the president of this great country. His popularity in the polls shows that his opinions are shared by a number of Americans who feel that he can represent them better than other candidates.

According to Cahn (2015), Trump made a statement in a forum attended by many college students that shocked many people across the world. An Asian American student sought for a clarification about Trump’s view on the defense expenses in Korean Peninsula. Donald Trump rudely interrupted the student by asking him if he was a South Korean. This caused massive laughter from the audience, but the student responded calmly stating that he is an Asian American born and brought up in the United States. This embracing moment was captured on camera, and it is a clear confirmation that our society still has a low opinion about the Asian American students.

To Donald Trump, an Asian student does not have any right to ask an American presidential candidate questions in a forum where there are White Americans. In fact, some critics argue that Trump made a rhetorical question that did not need any response. He was not interested in knowing whether the student was from South Korea. What he actually meant was that as an Asian student, he had no authority to be active in forums where people from a superior race are present. The statement was meant to intimidate the student. This was just one incident that played-off before the cameras for the world to see. The fact that it came from a person such as Trump confirms that discrimination is very common in this society. The Asian Americans do not have the freedom that the members from the majority race have in colleges.

A rift between the Asian American and White students

A study by Cahn (2015) reveals that discrimination is a mental perception that people develop as they group up. The environment created by children in kindergarten is a clear demonstration of a perfect society that everyone admires. At this stage, little is known about superiority of race, religion, culture, or social status. They learn, play, and address their problems as united groups where the only defining factor is the issue of interest. They hang around together- Whites, African Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanics- without the knowledge that there should be a social barrier defined on the basis of their race. However, there is a systematic change as children grow up and advance in their academic studies. By the time they get to high schools, these students start getting conscious of their racial background and it becomes a dividing factor. This worsens when they get to college.

According to a study by Houshmand, Spanierman, and Romin (2014), in many colleges across the United States, student groups are defined by their racial backgrounds. It does not matter the nature of group or the purpose for which it is formed. When forming study groups, it is more likely to see African Americans having their own groups and so do the Whites and Asian Americans. A game that is popular among the Asian Americans rarely attracts the African Americans or Whites. In drama, things are not different as students try to identify with their race. This creates a rift among the college students.

This may sometimes be worsened when a section of the minorities feel that they are not favored by the administrations. For instance, Rugby and Baseball are not very popular games among the Asian Americans. These games always receive massive support from the administrations of most of the colleges. They get coaches who are fully employed by the school to help them in trainings. All their sporting trips are fully sponsored by their schools. On the other hand, Asian Americans love martial arts. Many colleges in the United States rarely recognize such games. It means that such students will be forced to look for support outside their institutions of learning. They are rarely sponsored when they have major tournaments outside their schools. Many students consider this discrimination against the minority as a system that worsens the already tense relationship between different groups.

Discrimination in admissions to college

According to Graham (1983), one of the areas where discrimination of Asian American students remains very pronounced is in admissions into Ivy League Colleges. A number of Elite Colleges in the United States have been accused of discriminating against Asian Americans when admitting their students. Harvard, one of the country’s finest colleges, is one of the institutions that have been accused of this discrimination. Over 60 Asian American student organizations filed a complaint against this institution claiming that it was keen on limiting the number of Asian students admitted at the college.

They had evidences to support their claim. For instance, they reported that Asian American applicants who had top SAT scores were denied admissions into this college while the Whites who had lower scores were offered admissions. It is expected that these Ivy League Colleges would base their admissions on academic merits of the applicants. However, this is not the case in the United States. Princeton University is another elite college that has been accused of giving priority to the Whites when admitting their students. The massive complaint from the Asian students forced the Office for Civil Rights in the Education Department to conduct an investigation to determine if the claim was true. Although the outcome of their investigation concluded that the claim about discrimination against a section of students was false, many people still feel that some members of the society are more special than others when it comes to college admissions.

Arguments Refuting Existence of Discrimination against Asian Students

According to Chan (2005), the argument that Asian American students are discriminated against is more of a perception than a fact. Over the past one decade, the population of Asian American students in Ivy League colleges has been on a sharp rise, but a section of the society fails to appreciate this fact. A good example is the case of admissions into Harvard College. Many Asian Americans have complained that they are discriminated against when it comes to admission into this college. Nothing can be further from the truth according to the data presented by Lee (2014).

Harvard released the data of students in the current school year which shows that Asian American students constituted over 21 percent of the total number of students admitted at the college. The total population of Asian Americans in the country is far less than 21%, which means that Harvard College has a relatively higher percentage of Asian Americans that the country does. This clearly shows that the college does not embrace any form of discrimination. Its main criteria when admitting students is based on merit. The data released from Harvard further confirms that the college’s non discriminatory policy did not start the other day. The class of 2017, which was admitted four years ago, is comprised of 19.9 percent Asian American students.

Guerrero (2012) argues that Asian Americans are suffering from the minority effect syndrome. The claim that elite colleges give preference to White students is misleading and very alarming. Asian Americans constitute less than 6 percent of the total population of the United States. If a college such as Harvard has over 20% of its students being Asian Americans, it clearly demonstrates that they are favored more than any other race in the country.

In fact, it would be fair if their population was to be slightly more than 6%, which is the truest reflection of their population in the country. A recent investigation about rampant discrimination against Asian Americans by the Office for Civil Rights in the Country’s Education Department found that the claims were not true. A section of the society is so preoccupied with the issue of equal resource distribution in the country that it has forgotten the need for facts in their arguments. As a result of this biased thinking, some people strongly believe that discrimination is still common despite the efforts made by the stakeholders to eliminate it in the learning institutions.

Addressing the Issue of Discrimination against the Asian Students

From the discussion above, it is clear that the issue of discrimination against the Asian American students is real, but it is not as pronounced as some people may want us to believe. According to the evidence from government institutions and individual colleges, such as Harvard and Princeton University, Asian Americans are the biggest beneficiaries than any other group of students in terms of admissions into elite colleges. However, a negative mindset from some members of the society has clouded their thoughts, the fact that has led to the argument that Asian Americans are discriminated against when it comes to admission into Ivy League colleges. In this context, it will be important to address such negative perceptions. The national government and all colleges should always publish reports that show the statistics of students admitted into various colleges to avoid some unscrupulous individuals from misleading the public.

It is clear from the discussion above that the issue of discrimination of Asian American students on campus is real. They are still seen as perpetual foreigners who are taking away the opportunities meant for the Whites. This has created a rift in many colleges due to the resentment that groups have towards each other. The majority Whites feel that their population at the elite colleges in the country is going down as universities give more admissions to the Asian Americans. On the other hand, Asian Americans resent the Whites because they feel that they are well taken care of in colleges in terms of their extra-curriculum activities.

The use of stereotypical terms is becoming common and students are becoming more intolerant against one another than it was the case before. The stakeholders in the education sector, especially the educators, parents, and the political class, should make concerted efforts to ensure that the poor mentality that one group has towards another is eliminated. The idea that Asian Americans are perpetual foreigners should be fought at all costs.


This research reveals that there is discrimination against the Asian students in colleges. Information collected from various secondary sources reveals that although the country has made successful strides in eliminating discrimination during the admission processes, many Asian Americans are still subjected to racially-instigated statements that make them feel to be of lesser value compared to their White counterparts. In our modern society, it is important to achieve integration at all spheres. This should start in our learning institutions. People should learn to respect and appreciate diversity that we have in our colleges. It is the only symbol of a unified society that is keen to work as a unit to find solutions to problems that affect the society at large.


Cahn, D. (2015). What’s Behind Asian Discrimination in College Admissions? The Huffington Post. Web.

Chan, S. (2005). In defense of Asian American studies: The politics of teaching and program building. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. Web.

Erbe, N. (2014). Approaches to managing organizational diversity and innovation. Hoboken: Wiley & Sons. Web.

Graham, M. (1983). Acculturative stress among Polynesian, Asian and American students on the Brigham Young University. International Journal of Intercultural Relations 7(1): 79-103. Web.

Guerrero, A. (2012). Silence at Boalt Hall: The dismantling of affirmative action. Berkeley: University of California Press. Web.

Houshmand, S., Spanierman, L., & Romin, T. (2014). Excluded and Avoided: Racial Micro-aggressions Targeting Asian International Students in Canada. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology 20(3), 377-88. Web.

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Mounk, Y. (2014). Is Harvard Unfair to Asian-Americans? New York Times. Web.

Smith, L. (2009). Race Abuse Shame Students Tell of Tassie Attacks. Hobart Mercury. Web.

Williams, W. (2009). Effort to Diversify Universities a Form of Racial Discrimination. Deseret News. Web.

Woodrow, J. (2015). U.S. ACCUSES U-MD. OF HIRING BIAS. Washington Post. Web.

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