Because I am an inveterate optimist who likes to think the best of others, I will assume for the purposes of the following argument that Governor Roy Cooper and former Governors. Jim Hunt, Mike Easley and Bev Perdue sometimes sign documents they haven’t read carefully.
I make this assumption because they and several other Democratic governors and former governors of Southern states have just intervened as amici curiae in a case before the Supreme Court of the United States. Its judges are considering two related cases challenging the use of racial preferences by the admissions departments of Harvard, the nation’s oldest private university, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s oldest public university. .
Specifically, both universities currently engage in rampant and indefensible racial discrimination. To a large number of high-achieving Asian and White applicants, they basically answer: you are well prepared to succeed on our campus, but you are the wrong color; therefore, you will not be admitted.
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The amicus brief submitted on behalf of the Governors shuffles around this basic truth, kicking up a lot of dust in an attempt to cover it up. The attempt fails.
The brief states, for example, that “appreciation of diversity is a deeply held value” and that “diversity in student bodies also encourages civic engagement and promotes skills that future leaders need, such as openness to debate and a willingness to seek out different viewpoints”. Agreed! But in this context, defining diversity in racial or ethnic terms is absurdly narrow and grotesquely offensive.
If the goal were truly to foster debate and discussion of differing viewpoints on campus and beyond, for example, universities would use their admissions policies to create groups of students who relate to society broadly in terms of religious sentiment, partisan affiliation and personal philosophy.
I wouldn’t be in favor of that either, but it would make more sense. We can be reasonably sure that students who identify as Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and atheists have real differences of opinion about the nature of existence and the meaning of life. Same for Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, etc. Can the same be said of students who are attached to racial and ethnic labels, as if there is a “white” or “black” or “Hispanic” opinion?
The amicus brief also presents an extensive argument that certain racial and ethnic minorities are statistically underrepresented in higher education compared to the general population. Agreed! However, that has little to do with the issue at hand.
Students for Fair Admissions sued Harvard and UNC-Chapel Hill. His case involves other very selective universities, of course. But if that prevails, ending racial discrimination in admissions, some students who might otherwise have gone to UNC-Chapel Hill will instead be admitted to, say, UNC-Greensboro (one of my alma maters). Given that some campuses are experiencing declining enrollment and others are not being selective in the first place, there is simply no possibility that a plaintiffs’ victory will have any discernible effect on students’ college attendance. belonging to minorities.
Again, remember what the current policy does. It basically tells a significant number of high performing Asian and White applicants the following: you are well prepared to succeed on our campus, but you are the wrong color; therefore, you will not be admitted.
On the contrary, insists the brief filed on behalf of the governors. “Racial discrimination has no place in American society,” he said. “But careful consideration of race as a factor in an individualized assessment of a college applicant is not discrimination.”
It is, to paraphrase Jeremy Bentham, staggering nonsense on very high, rickety stilts. These universities don’t use race and ethnicity as positive factors to break some ties. The proportions are wildly skewed. Advantaged students with lower GPAs and test scores are consistently admitted over disadvantaged students with higher GPAs and test scores.
UNC-Chapel Hill engaged in widespread discrimination. I wish current and former Democratic governors of North Carolina hadn’t signed their names in defense of her.
John Hood is a board member of the John Locke Foundation.