Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Race Conscious College Admissions

Shelby Steele argued long ago that affirmative action disadvantages those it is supposed to advantage. After all, if minority group members are admitted to universities according to different standards, well then, other students will naturally assume that all minority students do not really belong.

In addition, if some students are admitted with sub-par test scores and GPAs, they must be taking the places of students who scored better and who are more qualified. As Ramesh Ponnuru argues in his Bloomberg column (via Maggie’s Farm) the number of places in entering college classes is finite. If you grant a preference to one student with 1200 SAT scores you will necessarily need to reject another student with 1500 SAT scores. Dare we say that the system discriminates against some students in favor of others… on the grounds of race?

Worse yet, the Harvard admissions process gives points for scintillating personality. It means that nerdy Asian students who get 1600 on the SAT are downgraded because they are assumed not to be quite as personable as a minority candidate who scored 1150.

In Princeton, to name one university at random, admissions officers add hundreds of points to the scores of minority candidates while subtracting points from Asian students.

Anyway, the recent lawsuit filed by Asian candidates against Harvard University was decided by Obama appointed judge, Allison Burroughs, in favor of Harvard and in favor of discrimination against Asians.

Ponnuru explains that the reasoning defined reason, and showed a decidedly challenged mind. He will go on to say that court’s reasoning merely reflected the slipshod decisions cobbled together by the Supreme Court.

The question this time was whether Harvard was unlawfully discriminating against Asian-American applicants. Harvard “testified that race, when considered in admissions, can only help, not hurt, a student’s chances of getting in” – as the New York Times reported with a straight face. Judge Burroughs bought it, writing that race “is never viewed as a negative attribute” by Harvard’s admissions department.

Think about that for a moment. Logically, if a particular racial or ethnic background is a plus, then another background must be a “minus.” Harvard has a finite number of places to offer. Putting a thumb on the scales for certain racial minorities means putting a thumb on the scales against everyone else.

And also:

The courts have struggled ever since to wrest some sense from the [Supreme Court] ruling [in the Bakke case from 1978]. Following Powell, Burroughs wrote that Harvard was in the clear because it treated race as “an important consideration” that “never becomes the defining feature” of an applicant. One problem: If being black or Hispanic or Native American is a plus for the admissions office, it has to be decisive in some cases. If it is never decisive, it isn’t really a plus.

In the end, it’s alright to punish some students in order to promote diversity. That the policy might be producing a world where many students feel that they have been treated unfairly does not matter. That Asian students are being punished for the sins of non-Asians does not matter. If such is the case, does race-based admissions constitute reparations?

It is a testament to the contrived nature of the Supreme Court’s rulings that toward the end of her opinion, Burroughs drops the pretense: “Race-conscious admissions will always penalize to some extent the groups that are not being advantaged by the process, but this is justified by the compelling interest in diversity and all the benefits that flow from a diverse college population.” Besides, she adds, the burden on Asian-Americans, the focus of the lawsuit, is light. This line, though, creates another unacknowledged problem: The burden on Asian-Americans is too small to give them a legal injury, but absolutely vital to maintaining the benefits of a racially engineered student body?


Sam L. said...

Mayhap the "Supreme Court" should be renamed as the "Social Justice Court.

n.n said...

Affirmative discrimination. That said, diversity (i.e. color or low information attribute judgment) breeds adversity.

n.n said...

"Social Justice Court."

Social justice (e.g. appeal to empathy) -- which is notoriously Pro-Choice -- anywhere, is injustice everywhere.

UbuMaccabee said...

Asians will suck it up and vote for the their own oppression. They are confirming Harvard’s judgement that Asians lack the right sort of personality to be admitted. Anyone expect Asians to be 1000 strong outside the Harvard admission office? Not a chance. They will accept the opinions of the ruling caste and do what they are told. Maybe there is something incompatible with Asians and self-assertion, perhaps their “disproportionate strength in academics comes at the expense of other skills and traits that Harvard values.” Either you stand up to the racist, low functioning blacks and the white leftists Overlords or you go to SUNY New Paltz. Harvard to Asians: Drop Dead. Asians to Harvard: We will comply.

Ubu, Emperor of the Three Harmonies Society

UbuMaccabee said...

Yes, and they will accept this rotten verdict and vote for the political party that delivered it through a leftist, racialist judge. Authority has spoken. They are incapable of seeing that with conservatives they will practically own the best schools, but with Leftists they give up their spots to blacks and Hispanics who scored hundreds of points below them on the tests. Also note, that this lawsuit was met with mixed messages from the left-leaning ‘thought leaders’ of the Asian community who understood that supporting it made them look like they supported a conservative position. Asian elites still go to Stanford, but smart Asian nobodies got what they deserve: Cal St Northridge. Can’t upset the happy family of racialist set-asides.