This article was originally published by Campus Progress.
Maclean’s On Campus published a controversial story last week by Stephanie Findlay and Nicholas Kohler on the phenomenon of white Canadians avoiding applying to schools perceived as “too Asian,”—meaning schools that are “so academically focused that some students feel they can no longer compete or have fun.” They argue is issue needs to be addressed by university administrations, before Canada ends up with totally segregated institutions of higher learning.
Jezebel did a pretty thorough job last week of panning the piece as racist.
But since I’m Asian (Filipino) and have attended one of the schools they say “all the white kids go to” (McGill), I have a couple things to add.
For starters, I’m surprised no one took issue with the way that “Asian” and “Chinese” are used interchangeably throughout this article. That was the first early warning sign that it was going to be hard to take seriously, for me.
The really frustrating thing is how the article mixes some credible information and measured observation with a bunch of anecdotal evidence and a general tone of "THE YELLOW MENACE IS ADVANCING" paranoia. Readers were likely torn over whether to dismiss it outright or say it’s “thought-provoking.” I’m going to try to separate the two here a little bit.
There are the potentially valid problems: Self-segregation often happens among different ethnic groups, and quotas on Asian enrollment at some U.S. colleges have existed for years. The authors cite a few thoughtful studies done on this topic. Then there are the wild generalizations based on anecdotes—personal stories along the lines of "this happened to me with an Asian person one time!"
Second, I want to take a minute to note that this article doesn’t really hold up to my own experiences in college. When I was at McGill, the Asian student unions on campus competed to hold the best parties. My cousin was president of one of them for years—I can tell you, they can fucking party. Stereotypes about how Asians only want to study are lazy and inaccurate.