AABANY Co-Sponsors: Asian Americans and Higher Education: An End to Affirmative Action?

On Tuesday April 30, 2019, Asia Society and the Asian American Bar Association of New York co-hosted a lively discussion on the lawsuit Students for Fair Admission vs. Harvard University.  Currently winding its way through the Federal courts, Asian Americans and affirmative action have become a point of focus in contemporary political debate.

Within the Asian American community itself, a grassroots Asian American conservative movement has emerged in the last decade, in an attempt to end affirmative action.  This conservative movement alleges that admissions discrimination in the name of diversity is wrong. That view was represented by Jack Ouyang, from the Asian American Coalition for Education.  

Asian American liberals believe that conservative Asian Americans are being used as cover to abolish affirmative action, and fear a defeat of affirmative action means a loss for diversity in all of higher education.  Nicole Gon Ochi from Asian American Advancing Justice -LA represented the view.

Dr. Van Tran, Columbia University sociologist, presented new research on what Asian Americans thought of affirmative action.

Audience members were treated to a deep dive into the issue, with views from both sides represented on the podium.  A reception followed, at which attendees got to continue their conversations around this important topic.

Thanks to everyone who came out for this event. Thanks especially to all the speakers for their insights and views. See below for short bios of all the speakers. (Thanks to Elsa Ruiz for the event photos.)

Chris M. Kwok, Esq. (moderator) serves as the Co-Chair of the Issues Committee and Asia Practice Committee for the Asian American Bar Association of New York. He received his B.A from Cornell University with a major in Government and minor in Asian American studies, and his J.D from UCLA Law School, where he served on the staff of the Asian American Pacific Islander Law Journal.  Formerly, he was the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Coordinator at the U.S. Equal Employment Commission in the New York District office. He is a mediator with JAMS.

Dr. Van C. Tran is a professor of Sociology at Columbia University whose research and writing broadly focuses on the incorporation of Asian immigrants and their children into American culture, politics and society.  He has served in many positions at both the Eastern Sociological Society and the American Sociological Association. He is a frequent commentator in the media and was selected as an NPR Source of the Week in July of 2015.

Nicole Gon Ochi, Esq. is the Supervising Attorney at Asian Americans Advancing Justice—LA’s Impact Litigation unit. She joined Advancing Justice as a Skadden Fellow in 2010 and has taken a lead role in litigating and providing advocacy on matters involving employment discrimination, education, workers’ rights, affordable housing preservation, language access, and civil rights.

Dr. Jack Ouyang is the Vice President of Operations at the Asian American Coalition for Education. Mr. Ouyang has been an outspoken Chinese American civil rights activist and was a key organizer of the Chinese American for Equality. He was a board chair at the Millburn Short Hills Chinese Association and the Millburn Institute of Talent. He is currently an IT Professional based in New Jersey.

Press Release: NAPABA and Partners Applaud Ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas

WASHINGTON — The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and its partner organizations applaud the Supreme Court’s ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, which reaffirms the principle that diversity in higher education is a compelling interest. In light of this decision, colleges and universities may continue to develop effective admissions policies that include race as a factor as part of a holistic review to create diversity and opportunity in the applicant pool.

“Today the Supreme Court affirmed the important role race-conscious admissions policies have in ensuring diversity in our nation’s colleges and universities,” said NAPABA President Jin Y. Hwang. “As lawyers of color, we see the beneficial impacts of these policies every day in the legal workforce and we recognize that diversity in higher education is critical to ensuring we have a pipeline of talented lawyers and judges able to serve their communities. We are encouraged that the Court continued to recognize these benefits for our country and allow colleges and universities to continue to ensure diversity and inclusion on campuses.”

The Coalition of Bar Associations of Color (CBAC) — NAPABA, the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), the National Bar Association (NBA), and the National Native American Bar Association (NNABA) — issued a joint statement supporting the ruling, which can be read here.

CBAC member bar associations jointly filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court in Fisher that recognized the importance of race-conscious admissions policies to communities of color and the important role they play in ensuring diversity in the legal profession. The brief is available here.

NAPABA joined national Asian Pacific American community organizations — Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice) and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) — to support the University’s holistic review process. The organizations issued a joint statement applauding the result and can be read here.

Press Release: NAPABA Statement on Today’s Arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas

For Immediate Release
Dec. 9 , 2015

For More Information, Contact:
Brett Schuster, Communications Manager
bschuster@napaba.org, 202-775-9555

Today,
the Supreme Court heard arguments in Fisher v. University of
Texas-Austin, a challenge to the University’s race-conscious admissions
policy. As the arguments demonstrated, the Court should continue to
uphold the long-standing precedent that diversity is a compelling
interest in college admission policies, and uphold the University of
Texas-Austin’s admissions plan.

The
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), along with
its fellow members of the Coalition of Bar Associations of Color, filed
an amicus brief demonstrating the importance of building a diverse
pipeline of students who will enter the legal profession. As future
leaders and custodians of the legal system, it is important that
students have wide-ranging experiences, engage with diverse populations,
and be representative of varied backgrounds. As current events
demonstrate, it is equally imperative that today’s students develop
empathy, understanding, and acceptance — traits which will become
essential throughout their lives and careers.

Diversity
and inclusion benefit all communities. Asian Pacific Americans, like
other groups, have endured discrimination and a lack of opportunities
that continue to impact us today. NAPABA urges the Court to recognize
that race-conscious admissions policies ultimately benefit the American
community as a whole.

For more information, the media may contact Brett Schuster, NAPABA communications manager, at 202-775-9555 or bschuster@napaba.org.


The
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the
national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law
professors, and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of
approximately 50,000 attorneys and approximately 75 national, state, and
local Asian Pacific American bar associations. Its members include solo
practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal services
and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of
government.

NAPABA
continues to be a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting
Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network of
committees and affiliates, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased
diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal
opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and
anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of
people of color in the legal profession.

To learn more about NAPABA, visit www.napaba.org, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter (@NAPABA).