Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Community Organizations Stand Up for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education

As individuals and 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.


  • 18 Million Rising
  • 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
  • Angry Asian Man
  • API Equality – Northern California
  • API Equality – Los Angeles
  • Arab American Action Network (AAAN)
  • Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area
  • Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Los Angeles
  • 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 Faculty Association – Asian Pacific Islander Caucus
  • California Federation of Teachers
  • Cambodian Association of America
  • Center for Art and Thought
  • CHAI: Counselors Helping (South) Asian/Indians, Inc.
  • Chapman University Asian Pacific Student Association
  • 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
  • DRUM – Desis Rising Up & Moving
  • East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU)
  • Educated Men with Meaningful Messages
  • Empowering Pacific Islander Communities
  • Equal Justice Society
  • EskinaEksena
  • Famili Pe Taha
  • 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 Innovating Politics
  • 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 Community Services
  • 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
  • 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-Northern Virginia
  • 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
  • Pharohl Chalres
  • Philippine American Association of Utah
  • Pilipino Workers Center of Southern California
  • Pilipinx Academic Student Services (PASS)
  • Polynesian Community Center – Alaska
  • QAPA: Queer API Alliance of New England
  • Reappropriate
  • South Asian American Voices For Impact (SAAVI)
  • Samoan American Youth of Orange County
  • Samoan National Nurses Association
  • SEARAC – Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
  • Society for Asian American Graduate Affairs
  • 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
  • Vietnamese Student Union at UCLA
  • Wesleyan Asian American Student Collective
  • West Coast Asian Pacific Islander Student Union (WCAPSU)

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