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"Too Asian?"
November 11, 2010 4:14 PM   Subscribe

Maclean’s Magazine ('Canada’s only national weekly current affairs magazine') publishes an annual edition ranking Canadian universities. In this year’s issue, with strong showings of Asian student populations at the top schools, an article asks, whether Canadian universities are “Too Asian”?

From the article: “When Alexandra and her friend Rachel, both graduates of Toronto’s Havergal College, an all-girls private school, were deciding which university to go to, they didn’t even bother considering the University of Toronto. “The only people from our school who went to U of T were Asian,” explains Alexandra, a second-year student who looks like a girl from an Aritzia billboard. “All the white kids,” she says, “go to Queen’s, Western and McGill.” Responses include pointing the finger at Asian parents, to mild annoyance and condemnation of the article, support of “Asian students” and even a facebook (?) page.

Bonus wiki link on historical relations between Canada and Asian communities.
posted by typewriter (80 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
No, they aren't. Next question.
posted by mreleganza at 4:18 PM on November 11, 2010 [16 favorites]


I'm having a hard time parsing the sub-head of the article: "Worries that efforts in the U.S. to limit enrollment of Asian students in top universities may migrate to Canada".

Can someone explain who/what may migrate to Canada? Worries? Efforts? Top Universities? Asian students? U.S.?
posted by vidur at 4:19 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


The dilemma is this: Canadian institutions operate as pure meritocracies when it comes to admissions, and admirably so

Huh, is this true?
posted by killdevil at 4:21 PM on November 11, 2010


My favourite response: Is Maclean's Magaine a little.... TOO WHITE!?

Jezebel also weighs in.

I think it's also worth pointing out (via the TOO WHITE? link) that the online article got pulled in the wee hours of the night and edited with some significant changes. There's a copy of the original.
posted by dustyasymptotes at 4:21 PM on November 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


The story is basically "Students who don't want to study too hard avoid going to places where they think they'll have to study a lot. THey estimate how much they'll have to study based on the number of Asian students are the school and/or blame Asian students for the need to study."

The first part reflects poorly on the students avoiding "Asian schools" and the second part is just plain wierd.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 4:24 PM on November 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


cont'd from previous comment

Whose subtitle of " ‘Too Asian?’ — A Term used in the U.S. to talk about racial imbalance at Ivy league schools is now being whispered on Canadian Campuses" is a lot more coherent than the garbled version vidur posted.

... and that's what's why by-seat-of-your pants copyediting is not the best idea.
posted by dustyasymptotes at 4:24 PM on November 11, 2010


Ah, this reminds me of Father Beese's time when American colleges had to make sure that those smart but otherwise undesirable Jews didn't take up too many of the available spaces.

Plus ça change...
posted by Joe Beese at 4:26 PM on November 11, 2010 [9 favorites]


vidur: I think they're saying the efforts are going to migrate, i. e. that whatever top US schools are doing to limit the number of Asians, the top Canadian schools will start doing it too.
posted by madcaptenor at 4:26 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't see how the efforts could migrate given that university admissions are based almost exclusively on grades received in the final year of high school. Limiting the number of Asians admitted would require completely re-vamping the admissions system (and surely to something a lot more expensive). Of course, the US universities DID completely revamp their admissions systems when they decided to limit the number of Jews admitted.

However, I don't think any of these "too Asian" schools are feeling terribly insulted by the accusation of excessive academic rigor.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 4:29 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was particularly amused at the idea that asian students were "taking white spots". You know, like literal signs on seats in classrooms, so many seats being "Whites only" or something. (something something invisible quotas/white privilege something).

The more complex bit is that when you apply "Work twice as hard to get half as much" into color hierarchies, it's no surprise that (east) asian folks get advantage while darker folks not so much.

A friend of mine pointed out that if it was anyone BUT white people making those same complaints there'd be a whole story about "culture of underachievement and failure" tied on to that.
posted by yeloson at 4:31 PM on November 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


Huh, is this true?

yes, in the sense that most Canadian universities do admissions simply by taking the top XX applicants who have the highest high school marks (which are apparently normalized based on the historical trends for your high school). By most I mean that i don't know about every Canadian university, but all the ones I am aware of work that way.

There are no racial quotas one way or another. There are no interviews. it doesn't matter if you parents went there. You write an essay they throw in the garbage. It's just your high school marks.

What was funny about this was that they made the same jokes at Waterloo 20 years ago. The Physical Activities Complex is the PAC == Palace of Asian Conquest. It was that way for every building as they all had some arbitrary abbreviation. It was only mildly funny then too.
posted by GuyZero at 4:33 PM on November 11, 2010


However, I don't think any of these "too Asian" schools are feeling terribly insulted by the accusation of excessive academic rigor.

the issue, such as it is, is that the schools are worried that white students self-select into not applying to "too asian" universities thus compounding the problem. No Canadian university wants to answer the awkward questions about why their racial mix is way out of line with the general population, whether it's lily-white Western or "too asian" U of T.
posted by GuyZero at 4:35 PM on November 11, 2010


That Asian students work harder is a fact born out by hard data. They tend to be strivers, high achievers and single-minded in their approach to university.... White students, by contrast, are more likely to choose universities and build their school lives around social interaction, athletics and self-actualization—and, yes, alcohol.

Ah, white students are more self-actualized! It's fact! Just look at the hard data!

This is why we keep complaining about that whole "model minority" stereotype.
posted by naju at 4:36 PM on November 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


Ah, this reminds me of Father Beese's time when American colleges had to make sure that those smart but otherwise undesirable Jews didn't take up too many of the available spaces.

Yup. All you gotta do is read some F. Scott Fitzgerald and it's all over a lot of his earlier stuff. Racist twaddle like this pisses me off. They're Canadians, not Asians.
posted by smoke at 4:36 PM on November 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


The dilemma is this: Canadian institutions operate as pure meritocracies when it comes to admissions, and admirably so

Huh, is this true?
- killdevil

Not. At. All. The deregulation of professional schools is just the tip of the iceberg.*

But Maclean's is one magazine that spends gallons of ink trying to maintain the polite fiction because its editorial board has a vested interest in the continuing privatization of post secondary education. So of course that's the angle they're going to be starting from.

*I've been meaning to dig up a ton more links and resources for a fpp but I haven't had the time because with my papers to write and exams to study for I'm Too Asian to spend more time on an online discussion forum WAIT A SECOND Asians are /supposed/ to always be attached to computers - OH SHIT STEREOTYPE PARADOX. do asians even eat hamburgers?
posted by dustyasymptotes at 4:37 PM on November 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


Looks like the sub-head has undergone quite a few revisions:

1. Some frosh don’t want to study at an “Asian” university

2. A Term used in the U.S. to talk about racial imbalance at Ivy league schools is now being whispered on Canadian Campuses

3. Worries that efforts in the U.S. to limit enrollment of Asian students in top universities may migrate to Canada

You can almost imagine an editor saying to himself.. "too racist".. "still a bit much".. "yeah, just about right". And then.. "WHAT DO YOU MEAN THE ARTICLE IS ONLINE? I THOUGHT I WAS JUST SAVING DRAFTS!".
posted by vidur at 4:38 PM on November 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


Racist twaddle like this pisses me off. They're Canadians, not Asians.

To split hairs, while you are mostly correct, something like 10% of my undergrad class (at Waterloo) was Asian-Asian. They were from Hong Kong and returned there after graduation. But yes, that's not exactly who this article is talking about.
posted by GuyZero at 4:39 PM on November 11, 2010


The deregulation of professional schools is just the tip of the iceberg.*

So discrimination due to rising tuition is not quite the same as what happens in the US with racial quotas and interviews and such. I have a tough time seeing tuition discrimination as being vastly different from requiring minimum grades.
posted by GuyZero at 4:43 PM on November 11, 2010


I feel like I should try to contextualize this just a bit for my American cousins . . .

So until a couple years ago, Maclean's was a slightly less electric Canadian imitation of Newsweek. (Yes, I'm aware of how oxymoronically that scans.) Then the publisher imported most of the senior editorial people who'd run the neocon National Post under Conrad Black, so now it's like if the Wall Street Journal's editorial board teamed up with the New York Post's Page Six team to make Newsweek.

They've actually still got some really good writers on staff - Paul Wells, in particular - and the actual reporting is sometimes a bit more rigourous than this load of anecdata. (Seriously, guys - you found two Havergal grads with the entitlement biases they issue with your registration package at Havergal and then you goad them - "she asked that her real name not be used in this article, and broached the topic of race at universities hesitantly" - into saying insensitive things about brown people. That's your scoop?)

But yeah, in any case, they've now become controversy-courting, talking-pointy publicity whores with their cover stories. They also recently accused Quebec of having the most corrupt government in Canada by defaming the province's beloved winter carnival mascot.

If you are wondering if they may have assigned this story for the sole purpose of generating exactly this kind of teapot-tempest hot air all across the intertubes and beyond, I'd say that while some of their editorial staff probably also enjoyed dog-whistling to the bigots, you may have uncovered their primary motive.
posted by gompa at 4:44 PM on November 11, 2010 [21 favorites]


Aslans are overrepresented in the fiction of C.S. Lewis.
posted by benzenedream at 4:44 PM on November 11, 2010 [12 favorites]


I can see one way in which it's worth asking if a university is "too Asian" or too whatever. Namely, if you're a public university (and seemingly if you're a Canadian one with admission based strictly on academic performance) and your student population doesn't resemble the general population, it's worth asking whether the underrepresented groups are not being served adequately by the education system, or whether they're just going to universities where they think they can get drunk all the time. However, one would hope that the fact a group was being underserved would be noticed without the need to go "OMG, too many Asians!"

(To clarify, I'm not suggesting white students are being underserved. I'm trying to suggest it might be worth trying to identify why the student population doesn't resemble the general population, lest it be a systemic problem.)
posted by hoyland at 4:47 PM on November 11, 2010


It's really too bad that people report on whatever that rag is publishing -- I woulnd't wipe my ass with Maclean's.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 4:48 PM on November 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


What's the deal with Maclean's? I remember that it was never great, but it used to just suck in the way that all news magazines sucked (boring, myopic, out of touch.) But at some point the editorial slant of the magazine has turned into "Oh my God, the brown people are destroying Canada and the first step in their plan was framing Conrad Black! Also, women are bitches, amirite?" What, were they bought out by Canwest or something?
posted by "Elbows" O'Donoghue at 4:49 PM on November 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ah, this reminds me of Father Beese's time when American colleges had to make sure that those smart but otherwise undesirable Jews didn't take up too many of the available spaces.

So, just to reiterate the actual content of the article - the universities themselves are not making any statements about racial diversity. The article posits that there's a self-selection effect where white kids don't want to go to universities labelled as "too asian" for fear that they will work too hard and not have time to get shit-faced.

Seriously, guys - you found two Havergal grads with the entitlement biases they issue with your registration package at Havergal and then you goad them - "she asked that her real name not be used in this article, and broached the topic of race at universities hesitantly" - into saying insensitive things about brown people. That's your scoop?

basically this. The racism isn't institutional - it's just a couple of over-entitled girls, a 20 year-old joke and some handwaving.
posted by GuyZero at 4:50 PM on November 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


This is why we keep complaining about that whole "model minority" stereotype.

I've been working hard since 1998 to break that stereotype by being a lazy underachiever.
posted by kmz at 4:50 PM on November 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


On preview, oh. That's what happened.
posted by "Elbows" O'Donoghue at 4:51 PM on November 11, 2010


Also, 20 years ago at Waterloo the MC was "Mostly Chinese" and the DC was "Distinctly Chinese" as opposed to the "Mainland China" and "Downtown China" referenced in the article.

So use that when assessing the pressing nature of this particular problem.
posted by GuyZero at 4:55 PM on November 11, 2010


A lot of my classmates in high school were really overachieving Asians. Let me tell you, the ones going to UT, UBC, or Waterloo, that ain't them. Those are the second stringers. The really keen ones got at least a partial, if not full, ride to Ivies/Stanford/MIT/CalTech.
posted by juv3nal at 4:59 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


If a question is posed in a news headline, the answer is always "No."
posted by nev at 5:07 PM on November 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've been working hard since 1998 to break that stereotype by being a lazy underachiever.

Amen brother. Keep up the good fight. I am certainly doing my part.
posted by gyc at 5:08 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


When some groups are working their ass off to get into universities (e.g. Asian-Canadians) while other groups might be happy to coast on their expectations (e.g. European-Canadians), and still other groups lack the tools and social infrastructure to get to university for the most part (e.g. Black-Canadians, Aboriginals etc.) you're bound to see disparity in the final mix.

That a phrase like "too Asian" is used at all to describe one school or another is less a case of simple racism than an indicator of a much deeper systemic problem. And as the article writer points out, the administrative members of the universities in question won't even acknowledge there is a problem at all -- perhaps because the moment anyone shouts "racism", everyone loses their head and it all bogs down in a torrent of incoherent screaming like your average YouTube comment thread. It's become nearly impossible to have an honest conversation about ethnicity and prejudice, especially when everyone feels their group has been somehow hard done by one way or another. This MacLean's article is simply one more stirred pot in a very messy kitchen.
posted by spoobnooble at 5:15 PM on November 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


people report on whatever that rag is publishing -- my wife calls this Macleans a rag magazine as she says the pages are only good to wrap up her period rag, before throwing it into the trash.
posted by tustinrick at 5:16 PM on November 11, 2010


Macleans is a stewing pot of Queens and McGill graduates. Asking Havergal College graduates is only representative of the bias of the magazine. These are children of the wealthiest corporate leaders and Toronto liberal elite. Most of Havergal graduates go to McGill or Queens because they don't want to live at home (and this precludes U of T).

One problem why competing with "Asians" is difficult is that the Asian system of learning - very strong memorization at early ages, fits very well into the highly regimented, and exam focused Canadian education system.
posted by niccolo at 5:17 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Crumpets and tea, crumpets and tea, we're the boys from UCC.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:28 PM on November 11, 2010


A friend of mine pointed out that if it was anyone BUT white people making those same complaints there'd be a whole story about "culture of underachievement and failure" tied on to that.

My parents always thought white Americans were lazy and too focused on romance and sex and alcohol. I think they learned this from watching the original 90210 when they visited the US one year and thought it was a true to life portrayal of ordinary American teenagers. It didn't help that the neighbor girls always hung around on their deck wearing bikinis and tanning.
posted by anniecat at 5:31 PM on November 11, 2010


Aww, those poor students who just want to chill ...
posted by carter at 5:34 PM on November 11, 2010


... I'd apply for a job at UT just in order to avoid them.
posted by carter at 5:35 PM on November 11, 2010


The article doesn't make any sense because "Asians" attending school are as Canadian as any Anglo student.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:35 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]




The argument that Canadian universities are more meritocratic than US ones might have some validity, but the admissions system is by no means a pure numbers game. Of the five universities I applied to, four asked me to submit an additional set of documents - at Queen's University it was the "personal statement of experience", listing a bunch of questions about work experience or volunteerism, and at Waterloo and U of T it was an online set of questionnaires about what sort of extracurricular activities you were involved in.

I got waitlisted for my program despite having a full slate of extracurriculars and an average a full 8-9 points higher than someone I know who'd gotten an advanced acceptance on the basis of being a fairly strong football player. I went to the school to state my case and got an acceptance a few weeks later. The year after mine, something similar happened to a friend. She didn't want to go through the hassle of harrassing the school, and never ended up getting off the waitlist.

I realize this is anecdotal and by no means extrapolates to a system-wide bias, but I just find the claim of Canadian universities being paragons of meritocracy to be a little, well, naive. Certain schools have reputations for accepting students with alumni parents for a reason. There is now talk about instituting a PSE-style essay requirement for all university applications. It might be a little bit more fair, but purely meritocratic it is not.
posted by Phire at 5:39 PM on November 11, 2010


This is so stupid- not because of the "too many Asians" straw man but because of the fiction it reflects that Canada has elite universities. Canada has elitIST universities, U of T and McGill among them, but the quality of all the doctoral schools (and not just the "G13") is the same, aside from certain programs.

I taught at U of T as sessional for 3 years and have been a prof at U of C for 11. I also taught other sessional posts around S Ontario. They're all the same. Canada is not the US and that's a good thing.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 5:47 PM on November 11, 2010 [12 favorites]


They should try the colleges here, so overwhelmingly full of bright Chinese kids you'd think...oh yeah.
posted by Abiezer at 5:47 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


GuyZero, how very odd. I lived in the MC twenty (and a couple) years ago, and I didn't hear any of those slang names. Perhaps they were just used by the folks over on the southeast corner of the campus to describe the more difficulty faculties.
posted by djfiander at 5:54 PM on November 11, 2010


It's an odd sensation as a Canadian to be embarrassed about your country, but it seems to be happening to me a lot more these days than it used to.

Please stop getting stupider, Canada.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:59 PM on November 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


On the other hand, Maclean's has always been a little embarrassing.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:05 PM on November 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


The most interesting thing I've recently read about Canada and race is Minority Rapport (pdf): a pre-scottpilgrimthemovie Bryan Lee O'Malley talking with Anne Marie Nakagawa about racial identity in Canada.
posted by zamboni at 6:09 PM on November 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


The argument that Canadian universities are more meritocratic than US ones might have some validity, but the admissions system is by no means a pure numbers game. Of the five universities I applied to, four asked me to submit an additional set of documents - at Queen's University it was the "personal statement of experience", listing a bunch of questions about work experience or volunteerism, and at Waterloo and U of T it was an online set of questionnaires about what sort of extracurricular activities you were involved in.

They ask, but they're not particularly used in admissions. Often they're even optional supplements to the application. Nobody is going through these files and trying to get a sense for individual students and making individual decisions to admit or reject, especially not for local students. For non-local students there may be more discretion applied. I'm wondering if you were sometimes applying non-locally because you said you applied to 5 schools. Ontario students are only allowed to apply to 3 schools (at least back when I applied and as far as I know, still).
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:31 PM on November 11, 2010


No, I was local. The basic OUAC fee allows you to apply to 3 schools, and then you can pay for extra. As far as the Queen's Commerce admission's process goes, according to a prof I had who was the dean of admissions a few years ago, they take everyone above a certain cut-off (usually around 88-89 for the top-six courses) and then only read the PSEs. So, y'know, ymmv.
posted by Phire at 6:41 PM on November 11, 2010


As long as admission is based on merit, there's no such thing as "too Asian", or too anything. That includes, by the way, too white or too male.
posted by Dasein at 6:45 PM on November 11, 2010


What, in my experience, seems to be a lot of the problem is that the universities make it far too easy for foreign students to take the limited places that ordinarily will go to Canadian students. While it is considerably more expensive to study in Canada as a foreign student, that in itself has not dissuaded people will deep pockets, and the spots go to whoever will pay more. Even that in itself is not a real problem except that that money is not going to create many more places for students, the prices for everyone tends to increase (high demand, low supply), and the solution just gets worse.

It's just another aspect of the slow descent into plutocracy when only the rich can get into universities.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 6:50 PM on November 11, 2010


Canada: Too American?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:52 PM on November 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think it's also worth pointing out (via the TOO WHITE? link) that the online article got pulled in the wee hours of the night and edited with some significant changes.

Ah, always nice to see publications devote themselves to transparency and full disclosure.

Whose subtitle of " ‘Too Asian?’ — A Term used in the U.S. to talk about racial imbalance at Ivy league schools is now being whispered on Canadian Campuses" is a lot more coherent than the garbled version vidur posted.... and that's what's why by-seat-of-your pants copyediting is not the best idea.

Or perhaps why seat-of-your-pants rewriting of stories via the Web content-management backend/InCopy/your other CMS of choice without a copy editor in sight (probably what actually happened) is almost always a terrible idea.

Why no, that never happens at publications I've worked for. Not ever.
posted by limeonaire at 6:56 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


GuyZero, how very odd. I lived in the MC twenty (and a couple) years ago, and I didn't hear any of those slang names. Perhaps they were just used by the folks over on the southeast corner of the campus to describe the more difficulty faculties.

Hey, easy there, pink tie. I still have a bucket full of wedgies if that's the game you want to play.

To be more accurate, I had one roommate (who was a Mathie) who heard it in the MC one day and then proceeded to come up with a name for each building based on their acronyms. So it was then, as I expect it is now, the product of a few bored guys who find the joke funny for a few days before becoming bored of it and moving on.

It always struck me as the kind of "joke" that everyone knew somehow but that didn't get re-told much because it's just not that funny.
posted by GuyZero at 7:15 PM on November 11, 2010


Yeah, I saw some outrage about this even while on a sick day. My response to it is: hey, if you don't want to come to U of T because it's "too Asian", yeah, please stay the hell away from all three of our campuses. Thanks.
posted by Hildegarde at 7:39 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I got my engineering degree here in the US, I found that most of my classmates in my upper-division coursework, and especially in my brief stint in graduate school, were either from Taiwan, South Korea, or India. Those three countries, specifically. Not so much Asia in general. The one friend from school I'm still in touch with is actually from mainland China, but he's an outlier.

While I was there, one of my Indian acquaintances asked me why there were so few of us Americans in our own schools. It was one of those moments where you just think "oh crap, they notice it too!" I answered that being knowledgeable was not seen in a universally positive light in the US, and brought up the nerd stereotype. He said he thought that attitude might be a bad thing for our country's future. Again, one of those moments.
posted by Xezlec at 7:40 PM on November 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


I guess this trend will be a boon for competitive cycling at Canadian schools.
posted by snofoam at 7:50 PM on November 11, 2010


You know, the thing that drives me nuts about this stereotype is that Asians supposedly pay for their "overachievements" by becoming unidimensional introverts. I'm fairly confident that someone like, oh, Michelle Obama worked her ass off to end up with her CV, and yet no one goes around grousing that she was only able to do so because she had no social life.
posted by synapse at 8:04 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


That Asian students work harder is a fact born out by hard data. They tend to be strivers, high achievers and single-minded in their approach to university.

Oh what, you kidding me? I not only drooled all over my notes in classes, took a midterm completely blind AND develop a twitch every time I heard the phrase 'framing the other', I had my statistics professor give me a pity pass mark of 50% JUST SO I WOULDN'T SHOW UP IN HIS CLASS AGAIN NEXT SEMESTER. That's what I managed to achieve while earning my degree: a permanent crick in the neck from snoozing and a barely passing grade with a connotation of 'please never go into a maths-related field as you are so absolutely terrible with numbers that if you do Earth's society as we know it will collapse and cease to exist, cheers.'

I mean, come on - with my data added into the mix I should be dragging everyone down at least two or three data points. Or dragging down the curve. Or average. Or however it goes.

It's bizarre - there's still times people make silly noises when I can't add up numbers in my head and no, I can't do calculus and haha, I'm sure you're right about me disrespecting the family name and making my ancient ancestors weep in their graves, but I can climb a V5 and deadlift 1.5 times my bodyweight, so I think it balances out. But thanks for making it sound like I'm a complete idiot based on an arbitrary notion you've got concerning correlations between my intellectual abilities and my skin! That's lovely. Call me when you've a sofa to be moved.
posted by zennish at 8:49 PM on November 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


In California lefties complain that Prop 209 made UC campuses too Asian. Meritocracy is so racist and unfair!
posted by TSOL at 8:59 PM on November 11, 2010


What a coincidence. I just came out with my 20th annual listing ranking Canada's top magazines. As it happens, Maclean's came in dead last. Just like the previous 19 years, come to think of it.

Better luck next year, guys!
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 9:47 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Amazingly, something that has never been (to my search) linked on MeFi is perfectly appropriate here: Canadian, Please -- in part because it led to its own Too Asian? moment.

“The only people from our school who went to U of T were Asian,” explains Alexandra

Probably a heap of confirmation bias in that observation, but whatevs. I remember growing up that too much of my then-97.5% white city was terrified of the blackness in the ... 89% white city down the road. 11% black people was actually even less than the US average of 12% (1980 figures), but you'd easily imagine that the total was 50% or more.
posted by dhartung at 9:51 PM on November 11, 2010


I'm Asian. I'm also an alum of the two schools that this magazine considers as being more "Asian" than other Canadian schools. I went to these schools because they're in a damn city. Have you ever considered how tedious it is to drive from Kingston to Toronto just to catch a concert or get decent shawarma?

In addition to lifestyle factors, the magazine is overlooking how geographics and income play a role in affecting where students go to school. Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary are usually the first point of landing for most immigrants and urban centres are usually more ethnically diverse. It's not a large inferential leap to think that children of immigrant families will go to schools close to where they can find a support network, either from families or people with similar background, and part-time opportunities.

Among my friends, race doesn't even register as a topic related to universities. We do however find it funny that certain schools attract rich kids more than others. The joke writes itself when Macleans interviews kids from one of the most prestigious private schools in Canada. I'm shocked they considered going to Western.

This magazine took an asinine and controversial-because-its-not-pc premise and wrote an entire article affirming it. I'm buying a subscription to the Walrus tomorrow just to stick it to them. And I've always hated their redesign.
posted by phyrewerx at 9:57 PM on November 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


Dasein writes "As long as admission is based on merit, there's no such thing as 'too Asian', or too anything. That includes, by the way, too white or too male."

Admission departments are very concerned about lopsided student representation. They want to know why their school attracts even a few percentage points less than the average number of any particular group and will actively campaign to bring those numbers up. Cynically it's a marketing thing; the fear is that they aren't representing themselves well to that group in some way and so are missing out on that business.
posted by Mitheral at 10:39 PM on November 11, 2010


Yeah the MacLean's survey has been a joke for 20 years. It's nothing new regarding Asians and schools in Canada (there used to be a joke at UBC that it stood for 'University of a Billion Chinese') but I have a few basic things for people to consider:

1. We're a Pacific Rim country, motherfuckers. Get used to it.

2. WE'RE ALL IMMIGRANTS. If you don't have a status card, fuck the hell right off and get used to people of all skin colours, races, religions, cultures etc. Goddamn that one annoys me.

3. I went to high school with quite a few first-generation Chinese and Indian kids and goddamn, they worked their asses off. 4 hours of homework a night, easy. Their parents were, generally, way tougher on them than the parents fo those of us (of all skin types) who were 2nd and 3rd generation Canadians. It's a cultural thing, not a race thing. They just worked harder to get into good schools.

4. The only people who get annoyed about this sort of thing are racist, elitist Upper Canada College twats like Conrad Black. Anything that pisses their cleft assholes off makes me happy.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:01 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm a white guy, and went to both the University of Waterloo and the University of Toronto. I remember some guys from Western coming to visit some people at my dorm when I was in first year at Waterloo (98). They had a great time mocking all the Asian names on a class list (look how long the W's are!!) and asking how I liked it at "Waterwoo".

You know what? Fuck. those. guys. They were morons, and it was obvious. I got a first-rate education, surrounded by great and talented students. My fellow students were Canadians of all backgrounds, and also visiting students from around the world. I would describe my university experiences with one word: rich.

If Queens, Western, etc are attracting all of the stupid white people, then it is those schools who need to seriously reconsider their reputation and their enrollment policies. Personally, I would be much more worried about being known as the haven-for-stupid-white-racists school than as the haven-for-smart-asians school.
posted by molecicco at 4:06 AM on November 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


South of the border, Ivy League schools...

How DARE you Canucks make the U.S. sound like just another country peripheral to your own proble...oh, hey, this isn't our fault. Awesome. Carry on.
posted by kittyprecious at 4:09 AM on November 12, 2010


(boring, myopic, out of touch.)

Maclean's used to have opinions pieces by Barbara Amiel. Crazy shit.
posted by ovvl at 4:37 AM on November 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm shocked they considered going to Western.

Western is a fantastic party school, and you don't have to work nearly as hard as you do at Queens. :P

I'm a white guy, went to Waterloo for Computer Science (96-'01). Never heard those HILARIOUS nicknames for MC and DC (we mostly joked about the stinky common room in MC, and how DC looked like it was made of Lego). Funnily enough, I never felt like my classes were overly filled with asians - it was usually a pretty reasonable mix. Girls, however, were in scarce supply (which is why I took so many electives from the REC section of the course calendar).

This is a really silly article though. People go to the universities they go to for all KINDS of reasons, and yes, silly privileged blonde white party girls are very likely going to go to Western, McGill, or Queens as opposed to UofT, because they want to live somewhere that they can party without being stuck in their parents' houses.
posted by antifuse at 6:10 AM on November 12, 2010


Overheard at an Australian university earlier this year:

"They need to give more High Distinctions."
"High Distinctions should be pretty rare. Otherwise, they don't mean much."
"Yeah, but the fuckin' Asians take them all."
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:18 AM on November 12, 2010


I'm a nerdy Asian, who studied hard in high school and college. I partied a bit, but sort of got over it after freshman year. My parents grew up dirt-poor and worked their asses off to give me and my siblings a good education and to ensure that we wouldn't ever have to work as hard as they did to do the same for our own families. I studied hard in college because not making the effort would be essentially like saying, "Fuck you" to my parents, and everything they did to give me this chance. This, however, was not a source of stress or a particularly huge deal to me because I actually like learning and studying, and enjoy the challenge of understanding new material. This is, apparently, weird, and a more "healthy" attitude--according to this article, at least--would be to want to spend time drinking terrible keg beer and playing Beirut in a basement.
posted by superquail at 10:35 AM on November 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


In a lot of ways though, kids going to a "party school" like Western or Queens are making the smart choice. If you are pre-med/law the biggest factor in getting into your school of choice in Canada is your grades, and you're probably going to get better grades at the school where most people are there to party as long as you don't join in too much.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:02 AM on November 12, 2010


Ahh, but any portmanteau - if you choose a school that is TOO much of a party school, your good grades will be looked at as not much of a big deal, no matter HOW good they are. Although for pre-med/law, wouldn't the biggest factor for admission to your next school be mcat/lsat test results? I have no idea how that works in Canada.

I should note that Queens is actually a pretty highly respected school, academia-wise (Western not quite as much, though if I recall their business program was fairly well respected).
posted by antifuse at 11:08 AM on November 12, 2010


Queens is also the school where students turned over cars during a homecoming party a few years back. That is a pretty epic party by Canadian university standards.
posted by GuyZero at 11:16 AM on November 12, 2010


Asians Not Studying
posted by naju at 2:02 PM on November 12, 2010


Queens is also the school where students turned over cars during a homecoming party a few years back.

In Edmonton we set 'em on fire. Right there in the school parking lot, along with a 65ft sign pole we tore down.

Steel signpoles don't really burn very well, as it turns out. Cars, however, do.
posted by aramaic at 2:08 PM on November 12, 2010


The thing about Queen's Homecoming it that it draws students from all over Ontario for the Aberdeen street party, and a lot of Kingston high school students come out as well. At least half of the partiers at any given Aberdeen party aren't Queen's students. Now Homecoming is cancelled, and we have ridiculously a overpowered police force (comprising borrowed officers from Ottawa and Toronto as well) patrolling the streets on "Fauxcoming" weekend and being total assholes to students.

Like, getting on students' cases for hanging out in their own front yard without any visible alcohol type of assholes.

Other than that, though, Queen's isn't that much of a party school, and there are a lot of accommodations for students who don't want to drink. The engineers get a little crazy, but I just attribute that to the carcinogenic gentian they use to dye their jackets with.
posted by Phire at 7:05 PM on November 12, 2010


I think the main thrust of the matter is that white people are afraid the asians are going to win.
posted by tehloki at 5:41 PM on November 13, 2010


Jeet Geer in the National Post: Maclean’s article on Asians familiar to anti-Semites of old.
posted by Dasein at 3:13 PM on November 15, 2010


Er, that should have been Jeet Heer, not Geer. Apologies to whoever this Jeet Heer is.
posted by Dasein at 3:16 PM on November 15, 2010


Normally I hate the Post, but this was pure gold:

I’ll end on a personal note. I’ve had the privilege of teaching at Canadian universities and working for the Canadian media. I’ve never experienced a “racial imbalance” at Canadian universities: I’ve met students and colleagues from every conceivable ethnic background. But I have noticed a “racial imbalance” in the Canadian media, which often seems as white as the ideal Harvard Lowell was trying to create in the 1920s.

BURN.
posted by GuyZero at 4:05 PM on November 15, 2010


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