Affirmative Action: A Change in the Air?

Glenn Ricketts

That’s what I sense in the drift of this essay and comments thread from IHE

The author notes the court’s narrow ruling in Fisher v. Texas, and discusses the immediate implications of its remand requirement that lower courts must apply a rigorous standard of  “strict scrutiny” when considering institutional policies employing racial classifications.  That, the Supreme Court held, is what the Fifth circuit court of appeal failed to do in upholding the undergraduate admissions plan of the University of Texas at Austin.

After that, though, he moves on to weigh the arguments for and against the continuation of affirmative action in its current incarnation, and finds defenders on thin ice, especially the ever-protean idea of “diversity.”  The lengthy comments thread indicates that a lot of IHE regulars concur. 

Not long ago, dissents such as this one were rare indeed, even in the anonymity of discussion threads.  And as Peter Wood noted here last week, the higher educational establishment (HEE in his formulation) is predictably playing full-court defense on behalf of the status quo

But if I’m right, there’s a palpable shift in the air among the rank-and-file, who seem increasingly willing to state publicly that the emperor is naked.  Let’s hope that they start pushing back when they sit on faculty hiring committees or presidential search teams as well.

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