Race and College Admissions: Still More

Glenn Ricketts

The day simply has to be coming when the issue of race in college admissions or faculty hiring generates no new litigation "diversity" policies, because everyone is finally one the same page: we all agree that this is what the law says, and this is what we'll do in shaping our institutional policies. It hasn't come yet. In the latest judicial round, described in today's CHE, a three-judge federal panel rejected a challenge by white students to the University of Texas at Austin's race-conscious undergraduate admissions policies. The students argued that the policy was unconstitutional, since the state legislature had developed a viable race-neutral alternative; the university triumphantly tut-tutted that its admissions practices were consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Grutter v Bollinger, allowing the consideration of race among numerous other factors in the admissions process for achieving "diversity" in the student body; the three-judge panel concurred in the result but actually diverged sharply in their respective reasoning. You don't have to be a Constitutional lawyer to think that this case sheds little light on an endlessly contentious issue. What I found striking, however, was this observation posted anonymously by an admissions officer in the comments thread, on the reality of "diversity" admissions policies in actual practice:

As a university director of admissions, I am confronted by this issue every day, and I admit to feeling ambivalent about implementing my college's policies. Although we say we may use race as only factor in a holistic review, the dirty little secret is that of COURSE it is the main factor when evaluating otherwise non-admissible candidates. We may dance around it or talk about socio-economic status, but it is race. Pure and simple. The downside is that I then see the ramifications on students who want to earn their admission, not have it given to them based on skin color. What message does that send? We don't think you can achieve on your own, so we Whiteys are giving this to you? It's liberal guilt. Then again, we have the other exceptions for athletics, children of alumni or donors, etc. They all think THEY deserve special consideration, but of course, would disagree with race as a consideration. Can you tell I'm ambivalent??

Yes, as a matter of fact, I can. But if this description is accurate, how about testifying to that effect in court, if the plaintiffs in this case pursue an appeal?

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