The new UC application will include Asian categories of Chinese, Taiwanese, Asian Indian, Pakistani, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Vietnamese, Hmong, Thai, Cambodian, Laotian, Bangladeshi, Indonesian, Malaysian, Sri Lankan and other Asian applicants.Whew! Do you think they'll offer as many boxes for the different origins of those checking off the Hispanic box? How about those of European descent?
Pacific Islander categories will include Native Hawaiian, Guamanian/Chamorro, Samoan, Tongan, Fijian and others.
The motivation for this change is because some people of Asian backgrounds are sick of being lumped in with other groups and the assumptions that they're part of that "model minority" myth.
But the numbers belie disparities within those groups, failing to illustrate the paucity of students from certain countries. A UCLA study last year revealed that among adults 25 and older, 15 percent of Pacific Islanders had a bachelor's degree or higher, compared with 17 percent of African-Americans, 30 percent of whites and 49 percent of Asian-Americans.Once the university can sort out different information on the various groups then they can claim special consideration for those applicants. It won't be enough to read an application and see if a candidate has overcome growing up in a war-torn background. Now, the admissions office can just see what box was checked off and make their own assumptions.
The traditional statistical grouping of Pacific Islanders with Asians has made it difficult to improve college-going rates, Kidder said. Many Americans assume all Asian and Pacific Islander students share the high success rates of Chinese, Korean and Japanese students, he said.
"The 'model minority' myth ... has tended to make some of the differences harder to see," he said. "It's rendered disadvantaged groups invisible."
Studies have shown that students from several southeast Asian countries -- including Laos and Cambodia -- are not as likely to attend college as those from Asian countries with more developed higher-education systems.
"Southeast Asians are not getting their needs specifically met," said Muang Saephan, a youth counselor with the Oakland-based organization Lao Family Community Development. "You have some families who just got here and are barely aware of what college is."
Many southeast Asian students come from families that fled war-torn countries, said Aline Xayasouk, a third-year UC Berkeley student of Laotian descent. The Laotian students from Richmond she tutors often live in poverty and do not fit in with the Asian stereotypes of their classmates, she said.
"They always feel that people don't understand them and why they're failing," Xayasouk said.