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Asians at UCLA

In response to:

Goodbye to Affirmative Action? from the July 11, 1996 issue

To the Editors:

Andrew Hacker [“Goodbye to Affirmative Action?” NYR, July 11] states that Asian admissions to UCLA are based more on academic merit than those of whites. Does he ground this claim on the fact that Asians comprise 51.1 percent of students admitted solely on academic criteria, while whites comprise 42.7 percent of that group? To do so would overlook the fact that Asians comprise 42.2 percent of the freshman entering UCLA in 1994, while whites comprise only 30.7 percent of the freshman class. Since just over two thirds of the class were admitted solely on academic criteria, this means that 81.1 percent of Asian freshman, but 93.2 percent of white freshman, were admitted solely on academic criteria. The latter numbers are clearly the relevant ones for judging the degree to which admissions of these groups are based on academic merit.

Carl G. Wagner
Professor of Mathematics
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, Tennessee

Andrew Hacker replies:

Asian complaints come mainly from their top students, who feel they are denied their fair share of places. Those who are admitted have higher grades than whites, including in the group where non-academic factors play a role. Given the size of UCLA’s applicant pool (over 20,000 in 1994), it means that many rejected Asians had better records than accepted whites.

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