EPISODE 3 | BIOS & TRANSCRIPT
AA Squared Part 2:
Dr. OiYan Poon is a faculty affiliate in the Department of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago and in the Higher Education Leadership program at Colorado State University. Her research focuses on the racial politics of college access, affirmative action, and Asian Americans. Her studies on affirmative action include projects on Asian American business owners and public contracting and why Asian Americans choose to support or oppose affirmative action in higher education. Currently, she is completing a study on how race-conscious admissions works at highly selective colleges and universities. She was an admissions reader at UC Davis and a scholarship reader for the Gates Millennium Scholarship program for AAPIs. She is a co-lead author of amicus briefs on behalf of 678 social scientists in support of diversity in SFFA v. Harvard.
Helen: Hey everyone, this is Helen, we wanted to give a roadmap for this episode for you begin listening recently released an episode focusing on debunking the myths of affirmative action and looking towards the November 2020 election and specifically proposition 16 in California. While that episode was much more informational, the episode that you're about to listen to right now is focused more on these broad conversation surrounding the topic. We sat down with current high schoolers applying to college and recent college matriculants to have a roundtable style conversation about affirmative action. After the roundtable, you'll hear a debrief with some of our team members about what we heard. It's important for us at fresh off the vote to acknowledge that this is a difficult topic and even within our team, we've had to confront our own feelings with each other about it. We believe that contextualization is important. So think of this episode as a roundtable with an additional reflection and dialogue by our team. Thanks for listening.
Kevin: I think a lot of the problems right now are like Pretty intertwined and it's like not really one problem that anyone can isolate. It's more like a convoluted puzzle that you have to like, kind of solve all at once, which makes it look pretty insurmountable to me.
Angela: Hey, I'm Angela. Hey, I'm Alex. Thanks for listening to FRESH Off The Vote
Alex: We're a grassroots podcast focused on making politics exciting and accessible
Angela: Our team is 100% self identified Asian American Pacific Islander youth
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Angela: We created some podcasts as a home for conversations on the different key issues of the US election
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Alex: Hey everyone, welcome back to FRESH Off The Vote. Today is our bonus episode. So every so often, based on the topic of our main episode, we might follow up on that week's Thursday or Friday with some bonus content. You Usually a little bit more of like a personal in depth view of maybe the topic that we talked about in a more academic way, on Monday. And today, because our topic is around affirmative action we actually brought on for high school slash college students. So people who either just went through the college application process or people who are about to go through the process in the fall, we brought them all together. And they all had a roundtable discussion around affirmative action, what their stances are, what their views are, how to improve the policy. And really, just to hear their thoughts there from a variety of geographies or from a variety of again, different points in time on where they're at in the application process. And yeah, it was overall very enlightening. So Angela, do you ever when you went through the college application process, were you thinking about these issues as well?
Angela: I think in process going through the college admissions timeline was I guess, a lot more black and white based on what I heard from other classmates and other parents talking about Affirmative Action, I saw it as like this really big, scary thing looming in the sense. But in the meantime, let's just keep my head down and try to make it through the college admissions process alive and try to get the best grades and write a really good essay. And that's why I've been pretty impressed with the kind of responses for UConn today. It really goes to show how good high schoolers are these days with juggling not only applying for colleges and reading essays and keeping their grades up, but also participating in discussions and doing their research and trying to build an informed opinion, which is much more than I could have done at the time.
Alex: No, I completely agree. I think their level of engagement with these issues, I was really impressed. And I think all of them were super involved in the discussion. A lot of them had pretty strong views coming in. And that made me super optimistic for the future. I think just thinking back on when I was applying and thinking back when I was going through the process, my views were nothing as close to being as foreign As some of their stances, so
Angela: it kind of makes you wonder what the heck you're doing. You are a high schooler. I feel like I was just not sent to you for a good amount of time that I was in high school. And just going through the motions. No.
Alex: Yeah, for sure, for sure. So, without further ado, let's jump into the chat. Thank you all for being here. If you could tell us and tell our audience who you are, where you're from all that and where you are in the college admissions process, like how far removed Are you like? Are you in college or in high school and maybe a little bit of your ethnic background and talking a little bit about your Asian American identity after kind of that self introduction also state your stance on affirmative action like your just your high level? brief thoughts?
Emmy: Hello, my name is me. I am a first generation Chinese American. I am a current senior in high school and I live in the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia in general. My stances on affirmative action is that I am supportive of affirmative action. I believe it is a necessary process system in order for people to advance in society for people of color and women as well to advance in society.
Alex: Cool, we can move to Hana.
Hello, my name is Hannah Lee and I am Vietnamese American. I'm a rising senior. And I'm currently researching colleges right now and my stance on affirmative action. Well, when it comes to affirmative action, I like the idea that underrepresented groups can have the opportunity to succeed in sectors such as education, employment, although it is a bit unsettling that there are groups that are disadvantaged by affirmative action.
Cool, Kevin. Hi guys. I'm Kevin. I'm 19 years old. I'm a second year university I'm a year or two out removed from college admissions. So it's been a while for me frustration Chinese as well. I guess I'm My stance on front of election I'm for it, I do think it's a really necessary thing to have, especially with like how higher education was in the past. And I guess is today, even though a lot of studies I guess have shown that like it disadvantages Asians more than any other people, rather than saying that Asian Americans are being disadvantaged more shows that like, as a community were all like harder working, we want to like achieve more. So I think like it's a like, if it is an evil, it's a necessary evil and like I'm fully for it.
And we sit here,
I obviously the air. I'm currently a incoming freshman at the University of Mongolia, America, American and my stance on affirmative action is I am definitely for interaction because I believe it's doing its best job trying to address the systemic racism that underrepresented minorities have faced throughout history. So that's my stance on it.
All right. So to kick off the roundtable, what about we start with each of you guys telling us what you think for an auction is the reason why We wanted to ask this is because we realized that the definition might vary from person to person. So it'd be interesting to see what your guys's thoughts are.
I think affirmative action in general is a system meant to give like traditionally underrepresented groups, whether that's like minorities or in the way of gender, the opportunity to fair access in higher education or within like the workforce.
I think action is using race as a factor in the college admission process. And it's used as a tool to diversify college campuses throughout the nation.
Yeah, I mean, I agree with I think I'm more agree with Emmys definition. It's more used as like a way to help underprivileged communities and people who historically aren't represented in higher education, a chance to like get into places like a secondary education where historically they've never been,
I guess if I was to tell you that historically, a lot of The court cases that have surrounded by frame of action have usually been not with the intention of helping underrepresented minorities get into these colleges and a lot of it is more to verbatim diversify college campuses. So in that there's no you know, intentionality behind giving opportunities to those who deserve those opportunities. So when it comes to die, what are your What are your thoughts that are kind of like nuance there?
Well, to me, I guess I was reading a little bit about it. I think the one that the case that comes up to me is Fisher versus University of Texas, where a think like a white girl was like complaining about having like, I guess, like, higher than average si t scores, like had pretty good grades and she was rejected from UT. And she was upset because I think at the time, there was like, kind of like a racial quota for UT. I think 25% like African Americans and Hispanics and she felt like that locked her out of the system. I guess like people utilizing like court cases and like utilizing the legal system to try to get around improving minorities and underprivileged communities is just like, it's the bad take in general. And, you know, why are you doing this? Like, what's the point, but to me doesn't really vibe Well, I feel like it's not a good thing to do.
And I guess just to respond to your point there, there actually wasn't a racial quota per se, because racial quotas were banned in 1978. And that's actually like a really common misconception that like when I was going through this process, like I had no idea right? Like I thought it was like, you know, they have to take X percent of this X percent of that, and to me, I was like, That's messed up. But it's actually been banned for a while. It's just that it's just very pretty basic. I think especially in like very kind of like elite high schools and stuff, you know, where people are like being really competitive with each other. They get thrown around a lot.
I guess. I didn't mean there was like a true racial quota. But I think a lot of like the like controversies running for an election is they use race on top of merit based checking Which makes it kind of seem like inspirational photos but even though it's like, like not truly using quota systems Yeah, for me in high school when I was learning about this, it seemed really convoluted because it was kinda racial coding, but like also not so like that was like a hard concept for me to wrap my head around
verser we didn't move kind of into the next one, which is specifically for me and Hannah. So you guys are about to go through the college application process in the fall common app actually just opened, right? Yeah, I feel like it gets early every year. So are you guys personally concerned about affirmative action negatively impacting your admissions process? Do you think it's gonna hurt your odds? Like how are you guys thinking about it?
To be honest, like, I'm not really too concerned mainly because I think affirmative action mostly impacts the applicant pool that as applying to elite colleges like the Ivy's, although I am applying to a college that while is on an IV, it is predominantly white, so I'm a bit concerned for that. That specific college but other than I'm generally just fine, I'm not really concerned. I think going off what Hannah said like, I mean, while I do agree I shouldn't be super concerned. I do feel like even though I am for affirmative action, I feel like it will negatively impact me in a way like I know that common misconception is that people have Chinese American or Indian American descent are often not benefited by affirmative action. And I sort of feel right now going through college apps that as a Chinese American, I'm in a way competing with people of my own race to get a spot even though there is no racial quota. I do feel like I am put into a disadvantage because I know there's a lot of other Chinese Americans who have a application that is as stronger even stronger than mine.
So just as a follow up to the college students, did anything that the high schoolers say versus Hang with you. While you're recounting your experiences applying for college.
I definitely do agree that I felt that I had to compete against my own race my school as a larger concentration of Asian American in attending the school. And I definitely felt like I had to compete against like people who look like me.
Yeah, same with Sudhir I my high school had the most amount of minorities in our like city. Yeah, I mean, like, to be honest, I wasn't really a good student High School. So like, it really didn't matter to me because I know I wasn't getting into IVs anyway. Like, my grades weren't bad. They weren't like, like, just topped here. So I guess I kind of had like a defeated feeling about it. Literally. I can name 10 people often, like, top of my head that, like have better grades than me having rhetoric colors have like more prestigious merit to them. I'm just like, yeah, I mean, it is what it is, you know. So I mean, I think I was more laid back about the process knowing that it didn't really matter for me that I wasn't going to like be attending like, Gail Like, like you've had, or Harvard or whatnot. But yeah, I guess it did play a little bit into like the fear factor.
Do the two of you guys like ever feel like because it has personally impacted you, in a sense, like because you are going through those obligations and all that stuff like, Do you ever feel guilt about feeling that way? Or do you ever feel like your friends talk about other people being like under qualified and the only audit because they're raised or something like that? And how do you like kind of respond to that knowing that like, you are personally also kind of impacted by that? Well, for me,
it was more like I never really thought that way. But it was more like this person didn't deserve to go in and I think mainly for my friend group. It was like legacy admissions. And I think legacies is something that like, really hurt me, I guess, because I see people like, Oh, they have like triple legacy to an ivy or like, like USC, I'm like, oh, what the heck I like they're just in. Okay, that's that's cool, I guess and especially being like, first Generation Americans that like my parents didn't really go to an ivy they went to University of Lowell and like we didn't really have that like generational experience of living here and having like the credentials seeing that like, oh, like my grandfather, my great grandfather went here. So like, you should allow me to go in here you know, and I think legacies was the main issue for us rather than like affirmative action. What am I using here?
Um, I didn't necessarily feel guilty because the people I surrounded myself with personally Well, they they shared the same like viewpoints on affirmative action as I did, but those views of oh they did deserve to get in definitely like it was definitely very prevalent nine migraine like nine my year, but the previous years like that mindset was definitely prevalent where I feel from infection is so different from everyone else because they don't understand why it's used. They just think it's helping x rays to go to college.
Here is benefit People that it should be it's like overall done a good thing for like our like our nation as a whole and for like higher education. So it's like, if it's doing a good thing, then it's probably not something that I can control.
I think personally, for me even going through the app process now, I no way want to forget that affirmative action exists. Because I've, if it raises a factor that I can't really control, like, it's just what I look like, I would rather spend my time thinking and focusing on things I could control, such as like the essays or what I put onto my application for extracurriculars. So I think looking at affirmative action right now, personally, I think I would rather just push it to the side and focus on things I could control.
I agree with me, there are many qualifiable people in my grade, and I think they all have the potential to go to where they want to go and regardless of race, and so forth. Me, I'm just trying to focus on how can I stand out from the whole applicant pool, instead of just saying, oh, because of this race, I probably will have a less chance I got someone who's another race.
So it's a deer. I actually wanted to circle back to something that you mentioned, I thought was really interesting. And I think it gives a lot of context to the kind of answers that we're hearing today. So you said that when it comes to last year's college applications, the year above, you seem to have a more negative view on affirmative action, while your grade might have been more open minded when it came to these things. It's really funny because I'm actually from the same school district as you. And I remember when I was applying to colleges, a lot of people in my grade shared the same sentiments of fueling affirmative action in a more negative light on there's a lot of rhetoric centered around what seemed to be like bitterness at the results of the college decision process. So I wanted to hear what your thoughts are on why that transition might have happened from the year above you to your current year right now was that mentality difference a gradual shift or was it a sudden change that just happened from one year to the next it definitely
was a sudden change because of your prior to mine at went from like Moscow crying to like prestigious colleges and like that like toxicity like being prevalent to like my grade being way more laid back. And even those who apply to those schools didn't feel the need to discredit others and didn't feel bad about themselves because they didn't get it but someone else did. I know a few cases where from interaction might have played a role, but there wasn't really a talk fake talk about it. I think the reason why change is because it's trying to be less of like a grade white thing and more applying if you want to and like doing it because you want to do something rather than applying because your friends are applying. It's becoming more and more popular. as the years go on,
that's that's really interesting. Yeah, like I said, it's always funny to hear the younger people's opinions now on those issues as compared to what I went through when I was in high school. Alternatively for the college students, do you think that your opinion has changed throughout the last few years? I guess this could be geared more towards Kevin, I feel like when you get into university and you have such different life experiences, and you did growing up in high school, it has the potential to change your opinions on a lot of different things. So I'm curious to hear
Oh, not really, I think like in high school, like I didn't like affirmative action was a thing. I didn't really care about that. Now. It's like a thing that I know about, but it's like, I know, it's like, it's a good thing. So I guess I lean more toward like, supportive, like supportive steps than like a negative stance.
So it sounds like you went from being apathetic to perhaps more educated about the nuances of the of the subject matter.
Yeah, it was more like I knew it was as In high school, but never really bothered to learn about it, it was more like, Oh, I gotta I gotta apply to college. Right? So like, nothing really else mattered at that point. And then once I entered university, it was like, Oh, I have so much free time. I was able to like do time researching whatnot, stuff like that.
And then so do you. I know you're not in college yet. But have you experienced any, like change in perspective during the application process?
My change of perspective, like I was, I've always been supportive of a reduction, but I wasn't really sure why it was used at high school progressed on I definitely know why now than I did before. Gotcha.
So this is an interesting question. Do you all think that affirmative action is a form of discrimination?
To some degree, I think affirmative action is a form of discrimination. There's like Asian Americans, there's this, you know, model minority enough surrounding them where society has this perception that Asian Americans are intelligent and you know, Easily capable of getting accepted into prestigious colleges. But Asian Americans usually have to work harder than other racial groups. And even if they work harder, sometimes they don't receive the reward that matches their effort. But I think affirmative action makes sense because I believe that, you know, everyone should have the opportunity to succeed and you know, wherever someone goes like it will be the perfect place for them. some concern that I have is like if affirmative action is kind of directed towards like balancing out a majority white population in education, employment, like, Why are Asians kind of getting penalised?
Yeah, in a sense, like, the issues that Asians face going through that process is kind of just swept under the rug, which then you can kind of look into and analyze like, Okay, why are there such like a high population of Asians applying to these top schools and still getting in, right, like, if you look at the top schools, it's still pretty over index when it comes to the Asian population. It's the question of not only like, okay, is it more competitive for agents to get in, but then are we actually Already over represented at these levels, which is interesting to think about, you
know, I believe that there's a degree of discrimination in the process, but the way I perceive it is as many more Asian Americans applied to these procedures, colleges, then click minorities. So when looking at that aspect of it, I don't think it's fair to say that there's preferential treatment of the races when there's such a higher concentration of Asian American applicants compared to an African American applicant, or Loch Ness applicant.
Yeah, I think like, going back to the original question, like I guess it is a form of discrimination. But like, again, like I think I said in my introduction, if it's like an evil I do believe it's a necessary evil.
You mentioned affirmative action is really like a like a necessary evil. Right. I want you to elaborate on that because I think that's important to discuss.
I think for me, when you read into like the the backgrounds of like affirmative action, like when First got on the legal stage as a first ever affirmative action was a racial quota. And that itself, I do believe is the wrong way to go about things. But like it spurred a change in like educational systems where back then it was ridiculous number like predominantly white students, like literally no minorities in any higher education. But like that evil, I guess I would say, like ended up changing. Like the way higher education is perceived as, like a lot more minorities in the schools that allowed, like a more diverse populace into colleges and whatnot. And that in itself is like a good thing. And even though it spurned from something that wasn't the best of ideas, it was a step in the right direction, I would say, even though it was the right idea.
Why do you guys think there's so much controversy surrounding affirmative action?
I think there's a lot of controversy because there's so many different opinions of how someone can see it. Like how we've been mentioning, some people see it as a form of reverse discrimination towards what People and now there's a myth that is even towards Asians, you have that side of the argument. And then you also have the side of argument that I think colleges might use and people who are supportive is that it's supposed to allow for people who are usually underrepresented to have equal opportunity to be able to succeed in higher education. And to have that ability to succeed further on in life. It seems that like a lot of times people think that if it doesn't benefit them, then they just don't want to care about it. And it's like the idea of sort of like single issue voters, but turn it on to affirmative action. So in a way, if they don't think it benefits them now, then they just won't care about it. But if they think it's working against them, they're really going to push for getting rid of affirmative action.
What would you improve about the current policies and the way we view affirmative action today something that
I've always wondered was what is the dividing line for people who are mixed? Like I know that many mix applicants might hide, you know, one of their racial backgrounds that tend to be over represented for, you know, a higher chance of getting in, which kind of seems unfair. But, you know, what is the dividing line in that?
I think also to add on to that, like, we often categorize Asians as dislike one huge group, but the most talked about are like Chinese, Indian, Korean, Japanese, but then there's also people from Pakistan or Afghanistan or Sri Lanka, like there's tiny groups within the broad, big asian sub category that are often just not represented at all. So I think in order to improve upon affirmative action, there needs to be a way to include people who are traditionally just very underrepresented even within the Asian population.
I read something on the internet about how this one Person suggested that, you know, maybe there could be a race blind pool where you put in the people that are tend to be overrepresented. So me like Chinese Indians whites, and then have another kind of section where it's like the race conscious pool, you put on all these like different ethnic groups that tend to not be represented in the campus population and kind of go off from there. Yeah,
I think personally, it's really hard to talk about stuff like this because anything that like it takes like a ton of research to look into it takes like a ridiculous number of people and like studies and whatnot. I again, I'm not like too knowledgeable, but I think I agree with what everything has been said so far, and that we should have a better way to look at it. But I feel like none of us really have like, like a really solid way to say for sure that oh, this is the right way to like do this.
Yeah. And I know is that have you asked to ask you to solve affirmative action but
I think something that can be improved on is looking at someone for economic status as well as race because I understand that cause you diverse, but we need to also look at the socio economic size of an applicant because it wouldn't be fair for an APU in an African American family to be compared to a horror Asian American family because they were not afforded the same opportunity that I understand that it's trying to level the playing field, but it's also ignoring a huge question as to what about their socio economic background? What about their like finances and things of that nature got definitely to be addressed in the admission process for to be more fair, I kind
of don't agree with that. I think like having an economic background check is not really going to help mostly because like a lot of colleges are privatized. Now. If you're a marketing agent, right? And you see that like, oh, someone like is going to be able to come here and pay us like pretty well, right and then someone else can't. It really hurts the chances that like, the poor family could get in into it. And I think that's the main reason why a lot of colleges right now are like economically blind, like you can put your your economic status just for like, like government aid but like colleges aren't allowed to, like make decisions based on your academic background.
Well, I understand that. But when you're looking at an applicant, and you're seeing like their extracurriculars, there's test scores and whatnot. And when you're looking at what opportunity they have, it wouldn't really be fair to compare the two because one person doesn't have nearly as much the resource to the next person. I understand colleges definitely do want students that can pay the full price. But again, they should definitely address that issue.
Yeah, I agree. I think a lot of the problems right now are like pretty intertwined. And it's like not really one problem that anyone can isolate. It's more like a convoluted puzzle that you have to like, kind of solve all at once, which makes it like pretty insurmountable to me. But yeah,
well, given all the convoluted information that we've had to sift through today, I think you guys have done a really good job in answering our questions with your perspective. And with that, in mind, can you guys speak on some takeaways that you learned from the conversation today?
I like what Kevin said about affirmative action being a necessary evil. You know, giving opportunities to a certain group of people may require the sacrifice of opportunities from another group. But if it's for the benefit of increasing diversity and providing ways for people to succeed in life, then you know, by all means, go for it.
Yeah. For me, even though there's a lot of negativity against affirmative action, all of us here, I think we all agree that we're like, for affirmative action and like, where the race or like our, like, ethnicity is more likely to be targeted. And we're like, yeah, it's a pretty good thing, even though like we might have suffered a little bit but the fact that like, people are kind of using it in a negative light to try to justify their own like personal gain is kind of weird considering that the group that's like more effective is like, okay with it and like wants it to be there,
you know, I took away like understanding the other side a bit better. How people like perceive the concept itself. Because again, like I understand both sides that I really understand how people like personally felt about it affecting them and like something I took away was understanding better about how it like actually affected people because I know how it affected me, but I didn't know how it affected others
a takeaway for me, that is just super complicated. There's a lot of controversy surrounding the issue from both sides. And I really liked the point that Hannah brought up of being mixed race and how do you like really classify that and how people might want to hide that I think it's just an interesting concept that I probably will be exploring it a bit more this conversation in general has really allowed me like more opportunity to learn more about affirmative action and to hear people's perspectives that different life stages in a way awesome.
So that was our affirmative action Roundtable. Hopefully you guys enjoyed listening to art. questions as much as we did, and maybe even learn something I know I certainly did. Especially when I got to here so dears answered my question about the differences between the previous year when it came to applying for colleges and his current year, as someone who went to the same school district as him when I was in high school, it was really interesting to hear some of the cultural shifts that have taken place over the last few years.
Yeah, no, I thought that was really insightful. And it's just to see how much can change over the course of one year, right? I don't know. It's really interesting. I thought everyone really knew there. It was always awesome. Me as well as Hannah to I think both of them hit on some of these kind of hesitations around the policy, which I think kind of the candidates there of realizing that, you know, this in a way does impact me a little bit differently and perhaps in a little bit more of a dis favorable way. But I think having the maturity to realize that yes, that is the reality but at the same time Just like unnecessary reality just shows how progressive their viewpoints are deep down.
Yeah. And I think it's important to note that especially right now, it's not easy to state outright whether affirmative action is good or if it's bad, just because of just how complex the whole system is. There's a lot of value in critiquing this system and thinking about how we can make it better and listening to how it impacts people from both sides of the table, and encourage nuanced discussions like this. And I think we really saw that from our discussion today, especially with the death research at the college students and high schoolers showed for sure,
for sure, I think it was interesting also to kind of see some of the misconceptions like they were all well educated on the topic and then either stuff, but I think sometimes you would hear a couple things that they would say that definitely is not the case. Right? It just goes to show that people who are so closely affected by the process People who have looked into the issue and have done their research, even some of these people don't exactly have all the grips on the topic and that's totally okay. Right. And I think it just shows that there's always more to learn around these topics. There's always more to engage in. And overall, it just made me really, yes, it's
a good reminder for us all to just stay vigilant when it comes to consuming information and sifting through important facts and opinions that are out there.
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This is Angela.
And this is Alex. See you Monday. So Hey, everyone, I hope you enjoy that roundtable shot. So right now, we have is basically five of our team members. We all listen to the roundtable chat earlier. And we all we had a really some really difficult conversations around it. I think it raised a few points that we all wanted to address things that we wanted to contextualize things that we wanted to really just come from. And yes, we have our team members on and we're just gonna chat about our thoughts. So Ava, want to take it away.
Yeah, so Hey, my name is Eva. You probably might remember my voice from the previous episode. And so how it started was after this episode came out for us to like listen to I threw it out to the main leads of our episodes that like hearing where it stood. It felt very uncomfortable. For me, mainly because the conclusion kind of ended on this note of this idea of necessary evil. And I have some very strong feelings myself. And I think I want to also like think of I want to keep that open to others as well. But I wanted to also make sure that what I stand for in this terms of this project is being like, represented and heard. I know I didn't sign up to like, basically play oppression Olympics to some degree.
Yeah, no, I, I totally get where you're coming. Right. I definitely want to expand on that necessary evil point. Does anyone have any any thoughts there?
I want to talk about so the contents of what that person said was, they called affirmative action unnecessary evil. And I think while that word choice is very complex, but I wanted to address the idea of what is evil I there's a sense of self preservation that exists, especially within the admissions process. And I think the way that necessary evil was phrased, it was directed at affirmative action. But personally, I want to direct this attention about this conflicting feelings. It comes from a sense of like anger comes from a sense of like comparison. And these are things that if I were to direct, I direct them towards larger forces, like so I would call admissions itself almost a necessary evil, because it's so hard to capture the entire person. And it's so hard to allocate really good resources. If we could give college for everyone. That would be amazing. But unfortunately, our society is pretty unequal.
And I want to expand kind of on that self preservation point more later on, but I think when it comes to what is evil and what is an evil and like what people determined to be evil based on their sense of morality at that point in time in their life. It's, it really does come down to that self preservation factor. I think it's especially exacerbated, being part of an Asian community that that pits people against each other that look like you that everything that you feel that matters is determined based on your grades or based on your colleges. And I think there's a lot more external forces that exists that I think, make that even worse and worse. So in a sense, like, I empathize with where they're coming from, and where their sense of moral morality is at as of now, but then, having gone through the process myself having come out the other side, I now look at the system and realize the system as it stands the system in the status quo Whoa, that is was evil. I just didn't realize that when I was in this mentality of being so tunnel vision into myself. And I don't know if I necessarily blame myself for having that tunnel vision, looking back on it like I regret it. But I think there's also a ton of external forces that led me to be so narrow minded. You know?
I wish I had been able to ask like, if you're uncomfortable with being assigned a certain race, like How comfortable are you being assigned a certain number with your LSAT scores at the end of the day,
remembering back to high school and the way I felt, I think a lot of like being young and feeling like teenage years being compared is even more amplified being Asian American. Because often at least within my immediate community, I had so many uncles and Auntie's be like, Oh, where are you going to college and for them, that was a sense of living look out for your well being let me ask How are you? But they're How are you was so based on this idea of worse to me. So based on this idea of what, what you college and everything like that. And I literally remember going like seeing a bunch of like friends of my parents and one guy saying, like we sat down next to each other and he said, Oh, what are you doing now? Where are you going to college. And then he proceeded to talk about his son getting a research grant at MIT. And I was like, You are not there to listen to me. And it felt like you're there to like, it's good for you to be proud of your son. But it's those small actions of trying to show pride, but also showing concern for others in a very non concerning way that can emphasize how much your worth is dependent upon these things like admissions. And so, for me for a long time, I had this growing resentment of other Asians, because I was an predominately white area, white people couldn't tell us apart why people will loop us together, my parents will loop us together. And in the end, I felt so much like I was competing to be validated against these other Asians, which then goes back to affirmative action when it came around. I felt like I was competing. I felt like there wasn't room enough at the table for all of us. And because of that, I resented other Asians. And I resented the way I felt. So I say all of this, to remind people that so much of our emotionality and anger comes from, the way we were raised and the way we are portrayed and, like our self worth is shaped throughout our lifetime.
So I guess then, how do we how do we pit it away from some of the stuff we heard, right like how, because I think you know, I think for most Asians listening to this, like, regardless of where you're at, in life, I think part of you knows that what you heard from the kids was wrong. Part of you might recall how you felt when you were in their shoes and can somewhat empathize. Like how do we move away from was being said, and then how do we actually take people out of that tunnel vision because like, we can talk around, you know, we can spend time here talking about like, why people might think that way. But then how do we actually transform those mentalities into something more productive, something that doesn't regard a form of action as an evil?
I just remember Dr. Poon, talking about her experience as an admissions officer, and how affirmative action is not simply reducing you to a checkbox given you if you're like a third generation descendant of immigrants. You writing about that stuff is part of a family. Action, it is holistically looking at your race in consideration and the interviews and the experiences that you bring to the table. And I think that is something we need to emphasize to kids is well, at least in face, we hope that's what happens at admissions offices is that you are holistically reviewed. And you are not only admitted just because you fit into this like magical checkbox formula. And I also think that I also think that this idea of us having a conversation, we need to allow for room for growth. I remember when I started having conversations about affirmative action with my mentors in college, it was very, very hard because I felt I felt uncomfortable. I felt called out I felt Like, why should I be blamed for the fact that everyone told me this was what I should believe in. And I think just communicating to younger people that you're, you are a product of your surroundings, but you can transcend and figure out stuff on your own. And that process takes time. And being uncomfortable is the beginning of growth.
And I hope like, again, this doesn't come as a calling out of young people because they should have the opportunity to learn. It's a calling in to, like, invite you to be able to ask like, why do you feel the way you feel about certain things?
We have to play the game to get in the gamification of college admissions comes from how how education is a transformative process, like going to Harvard gets you connections, although I would argue that you don't have to go to Harvard to succeed. It gets you this gamification. Maybe Makes you feel worthless, it makes you feel like I don't like the game, unfortunately, that emissions is but I have to play it because that's the existing oppressive force. And that's necessary evil in terms of how to reform it. I actually think, you know, we are living in unprecedented times with COVID-19. It is an incredibly revolutionary thought time about what is the role of education, given that so many higher education institutions in the United States are going remote and they're still charging $60,000 for that remote instruction. And also sad a CT scores are being like optional, although they're not optional if you wanna get financial aid. And there's a lot of talk suddenly about access to internet access to resources, the learning, like loss that's going to occur with the pandemic. And hopefully some of these discussions will serve as a more productive avenue for us to explore our self worth
Yeah, no, it's totally agree. And I think with that, we want to wrap up here. I think I hope everyone enjoyed this chat the chat beforehand. And at minimum, I hope it made you think. And if you feel that discomfort that I think all of us are feeling right now. You know, have a conversation with someone about this. You know, let it listen to our first episode on this topic. I think you might have a lot of good takeaways. We put a lot of time into that episode, and I think it's packed full of information in a way to help you reconcile some of that hesitation, you might have some of that discomfort or fear. And with that, we're going to wrap it up. Thanks for listening.