At least that's what it looks like, based on the justices' questions at oral argument.
Perfect. Congratulations. I love the term" visual diversity". It would have been amusing if Justice Thomas, after commenting on his puzzlement about what diversity is, had asked what members of the Supreme Court were examples of diversity--Kagan and Barrett or Thomas and Alito? If "affirmative action" goes down at the college level, then maybe our miserable public schools will have to challenge Black kids to their highest potential, instead of pushing them along, knowing some college will admit them even if they are not qualified. Our Black American children deserve far better education than they have been receiving for decades. it is a scandal and a tragedy.
This is fantastic.
Another point that could be made: if "diversity" were a compelling state interest, wouldn't *ideological* diversity be more important a place that exists to generate ideas than visual diversity? And yet, nobody - including conservatives, I would hope - thinks that you should be making people check a "who do you vote for?" box.
There has never been a qualified study that shows education is enhanced by having different-colored people present. When I studied engineering in college my focus was on knowing the math and science that would help me graduate. Whether or not various races were present was a complete non-issue.
Brilliant. Simply brilliant. Thank you
1. The ADL (which has a deep understanding of the dynamics of Jewish exclusion from Harvard in earlier generations) submitted a highly persuasive (to me, at least) amicus brief in support of Harvard's admissions policy. https://www.adl.org/sites/default/files/documents/2022-08/ab-2022-students-for-fair-admissions-inc-petitioner-v-president-and-fellows-of-harvard-college-respondent-us-supreme-court-2-final.pdf
2. You likely are correct (in a vote counting way) that the Supreme Court is about to overturn Grutter.
3. Treating admissions as an achievement contest, rather than a potential assessment, is part of what makes high school such a miserable experience for hundreds of thousands of students who are interested in attending a highly competitive university. The numbers game is at its worst at flagship state universities, where the admissions staff do not have the bandwidth to do a deep dive on the applications that must read to fill 10,000 seats each year.
4. Schools that have done innovative things to improve diversity in a race-blind way, such as the University of Texas guaranteeing admission to UT-Austin to all Texas high school seniors who graduate in the top 6% of their class (which creates diversity at the University level by leveraging high schools that are de facto segregated), have found themselves under attack.
5. There is such a thing as "white skin privilege". That does not mean that the impoverished Appalachian teen has a leg up on the son of a Nigerian oil magnate. It does mean that, all things being equal, there is still a bias in our society based solely on skin color.
A huge part of the problem many have with affirmative action is not necessarily discrimination but rather a fear that someone, usually themselves or someone they know, would have otherwise gotten in without the system. Harvard showed at trial approximately how many students for whom race is a determinative factor in admissions, so a progressive donor could have just built a huge dorm with enough rooms where the % of admissions goes up for all groups with that condition that it would be demolished or have its usage changed the year after affirmative action is ended. (Example: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/11/22/nightmare-of-the-windowless-dorm-room) I had this thought for a while, and I guess it’s too late for it to do any good. But I think that would’ve probably ameliorated most opponents of affirmative action (although not the Justices).
Beyond that flight of fancy, I think that a lot of the changes you want will come *because* affirmative action will end soon. The University of Michigan, for instance, banned legacy admissions to increase non-Asian minority enrollment. https://www.insidehighered.com/admissions/article/2019/03/25/u-michigan-says-it-doesnt-consider-legacy-status-admissions-some. Similarly, “[t]he University of California system, the University of Georgia and Texas A&M all ended legacy preferences when they were pressured by lawsuits and ballot initiatives to stop using affirmative action, according to a Century Foundation analysis. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/13/us/legacy-admissions-colleges-universities.html.
Fantastic article, David! I suppose I have some lingering mixed feelings about affirmative action, but wow... Harvard (where I attended law school) comes out looking pretty terrible here. And "Visual Diversity?" Yikes. There has to be a better way.
Good arguments. However, in terms of the OIR research that showed a higher percentage of Asian acceptance if admissions were based solely on academics (which I imagine are SAT and ACT scores), the question that remains is whether or not the level would be reduced with the elimination of the tests, I suspect that it might. Several top universities made the test optional last year. That the admissions are "holistic" and not based solely on academics--is a good thing, because at that level the difference between top students is negligible.
A student body should be reflective of a broad worldview, and the society that it constitutes. Students need to bring more to the table than just academics, and student athletes should be given preferential entrance since they have simply done more while achieving top grades. Elite academic-athletes are in the top 1% of the top 10% in terms of intelligence testing done in a study, plus according to my daughter they enhance campus life.
Yes, brilliant. And fair.
Somebody fixed your wikipedia page so that it now reads that you were born in Queens, New York.
I agree that legacy admission are not right. However, I view athletic admission much like admission for music or art majors. It really reflect a merit based admission based on talent and the effort the student as put in honing that talent
The basic problem is Black underperformance in education, crime, etc., when the main argument during the Civil Rights debates was that Blacks would perform equally with Whites in just a few years. Whites are no more responsible for Blacks' underperformance than Whites are responsible for Asian-Americans' overperformance ... so we need to address that underperformance in as practical a way as possible. Pretending it's not there has not and will not work.
We will see pigs fly before we see Harvard not give preferred admissions to legacy and donor applicants. It would be a step in the right direction for a University that cares oh so much about diversity, but we all know it will never happen.
Excellent analysis and in footnote 2 you provide what strikes me as a pragmatic and workable approach to approaching the issue.