Monday, March 5, 2012

Race-Conscious Admissions Goes to Court

U. Texas Austin, where affirmative action is under fire.
The Supreme Court has taken up a challenge to admission policies at University of Texas, Austin, where a white student denied admission is seeking redress for what she claims is racial discrimination.  The story is well covered in Supreme Court Takes Up Challenge to Race-Conscious Admissions at U. of Texas (Chronicle of Higher Ed) and Justices Take Up Race as a Factor in College Entry (NY Times), and the issue could easily rise to a national debate when the Supreme Court hears arguments.  Already there has been some discussion of how Asian students might be discriminated against by Ivy League schools trying to keep them from dominating the rolls.  And as admission to college grows increasingly competitive, there are bound to be more cases along these lines.

I have long argued that anyone who questions a school's desire for diversity (designed to benefit the school by providing a more democratic learning environment for students) should also question why schools have legacy admissions (designed to benefit the school through strengthening alumni bonds and donor support).  Yet you rarely hear legacy admissions criticized, even though there is a lot of evidence that they are even a bigger problem for society than diversity admissions -- see Richard D. Kahlenberg's Affirmative Action for the Rich: Legacy Preferences in College Admissions for an extended critique, which you can find summarized to some extent in his 10 Myths about Legacy Preferences in the Chronicle.  One reason why legacy admits go unquestioned is our increasingly privatized mindset, whereby Americans see anything that is good for a school's bottom line as beyond question, even if it is even more unfair than traditional affirmative action.

No comments:

Post a Comment