“China has long been the number one feeder of international students to the U.S.; for the 2020–21 school year, more than 317,000 Chinese students were enrolled at American higher ed institutions. Hong Kong sends about 6,800 students overseas to
American universities each year. Thus, McLaughlin says, the question arose at the start of the pandemic when foreign nationals were temporarily expelled from the U.S.: “Is it safe for them to learn?”
American professors started “try[ing] to find the safest way to teach without censoring themselves,” McLaughlin says. They have taken certain discussion off of certain platforms; started using blind grading and allowing students to not submit papers under their own names; changed some conversations to be one-on-one instead of group discussions where another student could possibly record or disseminate the comments of a student living under Beijing’s thumb. Some professors, like Rory Truex at Princeton, issued warnings in their syllabuses, saying in essence that if a student was currently residing in China, they should wait to take a given class until they’re back on American soil.
Academics elsewhere have stooped to disturbing self-censorship to stave off Chinese Communist Party (CCP) censors. A teaching assistant at the University of Toronto declared he’d been told not to talk about certain issues online because it could put some students at risk; a guest lecturer-journalist from the Hong Kong Free Press declined an already-agreed-to speaking opportunity at the University of Leeds because he had been instructed by hosts to avoid focusing on the Hong Kong protests out of concern for the safety of Chinese students attending the lecture remotely.”
“Professors in Hong Kong, and international students from Hong Kong who study in the U.S. (not to mention their mainland Chinese counterparts), already had to worry about what might happen if a student takes a phone out and films comments made during classes. With the widespread adoption of remote learning, that’s gotten exponentially worse, says McLaughlin. “Whether it’s the intent or not, the effect of forcing everything online makes it a lot easier to hunt down, censor, and punish speech that’s critical of the government.””
“Harvard University has decided to extend its pandemic policy of making SAT and ACT scores optional for applicants until at least 2026, which means standardized test scores won’t play much of a role in admissions decisions for years to come, if ever again at all.
Harvard cited the pandemic as the reason for the extension, but the broader push to abolish the ACT and SAT in college admissions is grounded in a misguided idea that the tests are unfair to underprivileged teenagers. The University of California system, for instance, has moved to stop requiring the exams due to concerns that they disfavored black and Hispanic applicants.”
“As Freddie de Boer, author of The Cult of Smart, has argued very persuasively, some combination of grade point average and SAT/ACT scores is highly predictive of success in college. And it’s simply not true that prioritizing test scores punishes racial minorities more than alternative admissions standards. On the contrary, the more that schools rely on non-academic criteria such as extracurricular activities and legacy status, the more they reward applicants who are wealthy and well-connected. A gifted but impoverished Latino teen who is the first in his family to finish high school has a better shot in a system that cares about his SAT score than in a system that cares if his parents paid for clarinet lessons and secured him a spot on the water polo team.”
“If institutions like Harvard really cared about being fair to the unprivileged, they’d take a machete to legacy admissions: a special boost to applicants who are the scions of previous graduates.”
“The most prestigious educational institution in the country should take the brightest students, and standardized tests are a better metric for that than the alternatives on offer.”
“In general, universities should stop caving to students who are unreasonably upset about minor infractions—but this wasn’t an infraction at all. Campus administrators would be well-advised not to put themselves in the position of being responsible for every hurt feeling, no matter how ill-founded or slight. There’s little benefit to making diversity synonymous with absurdity.”
“the bulk of the reason why our colleges, particularly our elite colleges, are filled with kids of rich parents isn’t that. Instead, it’s that rich parents spend enormous sums of money not on bribing anybody but on educating their children, on getting their children into prestigious kindergartens and high schools, on coaches and tutors and music teachers, and this means the children of rich people simply do better on the merits.
And so the big problem that we face isn’t merely that the rich cheat, it’s that the meritocracy favors the rich even when everybody plays by the rules.”