From abl, someone I think worked in admissions at Williams 10 years ago:

At least a decade ago, Williams did not have any sort of quotas for Asian-American applicants of which I was aware, nor did Williams actively discriminate against these candidates. I can’t imagine that’s changed. That said, I think there are number of admission biases that, probably unintentionally, favor wealthier white applicants — and, in the process, disfavor other demographic groups, including (but not limited to) Asian-American applicants. These biases are more cultural and are not racial, but I suspect that they account for the disproportionately poor outcomes for Asian American applicants at most elite schools.

Another interesting point along these lines: Williams is somewhat different from most of its peers, in that for a complicated number of reasons (including its location, size, culture, and reputation), Williams’ Asian-American yield relatively lags (or at least it did a decade ago). As such, even if the Williams admission process was not culturally biased, we should not expect to see the explosion of Asian-American matriculants that might present at a place like Harvard.

I have no reason to doubt abl’s testimony. Indeed, my preferred simile is that Asian-American admissions to elite schools today is like Jewish American admissions a century ago: significant quotas at places like Harvard but no discrimination at Williams.

However, just because a story is flattering does not mean that it is true. Does Williams really not discriminate against Asian-Americans today? And, if it doesn’t, how long can that happy state of affairs continue, the math being what it is. If Asian-Americans are 6 times more numerous than African-Americans/Hispanics in the upper reaches of high school academic achievement (and they are), how long before Williams needs to start discriminating to avoid imbalance?

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