By Tony Wong
When I went to the University of Toronto in the 1980s, it was already "Too Asian".
Trust me. Duking it out with fellow Asians in economics and math meant certain academic suicide.
"Damn, there are way too many Asians here!" I would mutter under my breath.
Also, the fact that I was the only Chinese kid on campus who couldn't add, or subtract, did not help my cause.
At Robarts Library where I studied, there was always a lineup of Asians at the cafeteria. “They should have a quota," I would seethe after some pushy Asian would line up to scarf the last Jamaican patty.
So when Maclean's wrote a controversial article on Canadian universities titled "Too Asian?" I totally understood where they were coming from.
So far it has provoked more than 2,000 comments on their website. They haven't had as many comments since Justin Bieber apparently changed his hairdo last week—which gives you some sense of the international outrage this story has caused.
The Star followed up on the Maclean's article, suggesting that Asian families were pushing their kids too hard. Apparently, 72 percent of East Asians go to university, compared with 42 percent of kids born in Canada who speak English.
That is just plain wrong.
Maclean's says Asian students are "strivers, high achievers and single-minded in their approach to university".
They also say Asian kids tend to have “High SAT scores, good grades in high school and a lot of them really want to go to the top universities.”
I know what you are saying. The bastards!
I am glad that Maclean's brought our attention to this pressing problem.
This research is almost as important as the furor that University of Western Ontario professor Philippe Rushton started a few years back when he said Asians had the biggest brains of all races. He also said they had the smallest penises. I’m serious. And this isn’t just because I have always wanted to write “penis” in a column.
Anyway, you know what most people would rather have. That, and a university where academics are not at the top of the list. Can you say keg party?
Meanwhile, the City of Victoria became the first municipality in Canada last week to condemn the article in a resolution, while MP Olivia Chow tabled a motion in Ottawa last Thursday demanding an apology from the magazine.
However, Maclean’s points out that this is absolutely not about racism or stereotyping.
(In fact, let’s say you substitute the title of their article, “Too Asian” and put in “Too Black” or “Too Jewish.” See what I mean? This is not about racism!)
The magazine says, "Many white students simply believe that competing with Asians—both Asian Canadians and international students—requires a sacrifice of time and freedom they're not willing to make," so they avoid highly academic schools like U of T. White students are more likely to choose schools that build their lives around “social interaction, athletics and self-actualization—and yes, alcohol.”
I say right on. Who wants to compete with some Asian who spends all day in math lab and then all weekend practicing her violin? That is just wrong. Also, no Asian would be caught dead doing “self-actualization". That is just creepy.
On another important note, Maclean's says Canadian universities may one day go the way of American universities.
Harvard and Stanford have had scandals after they were accused of restricting Asian students so that they can keep their "WASP" credentials, according to the magazine. In fact, a Princeton University sociologist says Asian applicants need an extra 140 points on their SAT scores to be on equal footing with their white applicants in order to get admitted to some Ivy league universities.
I say it's about time. The last people who need any form of affirmative action are Asians. If we need to give the WASPs another 140 points on the SATs to make it a fair fight, I say good on them!
As an Asian, I am all about making this a level playing field. I know what you’re thinking. Can a head tax be far behind? We need to give these guys a bigger handicap.
Because the last thing we want in our universities is a meritocracy.
Otherwise, we might have too many Asians.
Thank you to Maclean’s, with an assist from the Toronto Star on bringing this important issue to light.
Tony Wong is a writer based in Toronto.