In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that public colleges, like this university, can consider race as one of the factors for admission. But seeing how competitive this university has become, it would be better off having a racially blind admission and scholarship process. As much as our undergraduate admissions director states this could negatively affect students by not creating a diverse college experience, is our university really that diverse in the first place?
The university must understand that diversity cannot be socially engineered, as if you can just put a bunch of people of different ethnicities together and call your school “diverse.” Diversity is something that naturally happens on its own over time, whether we’re referring to racial diversity, intellectual diversity or religious diversity.
Essentially, affirmative action is a constitutional paradox. You are doing something unequal to ultimately create something that’s supposedly equal. As more students apply to this competitive school, the university should try to define each applicant for the incoming class based off of their academic merit and skills, not partially based off the color of their skin.
Caroline Carlson gets it exactly right. As we all know from the many statistical studies of student success (or lack thereof) in higher education, putting a minority in a classroom at a highly selective school does not mean they will succeed. Some – among them our president – will do so because they are prepared and ready to compete on that level. Others – and this has included a number of my students – have instead been set up for failure at upper-tier institutions when they would have succeeded at middle-tier schools. We do no one any favor in the current situation – not the students who fail, not the better prepared applicants whose places they take – when we place “diversity” ahead of “merit”.
Especially since the notion of diversity we are dealing with is a diversity of externals – something that Ms. Carlson ever-so-tentatively seems to grasp at when she differentiates between racial and intellectual diversity. One of the problems of modern higher education is the tendency to try to seek to mold what students think more than how they think. The result is too many institutions of higher learning that strive to be places where everybody looks different but thinks the same. Thus the diversity that matters – diversity of ideas, philosophies, and points of view – become sadly lacking, and students enter the world unprepared to deal with the fact that not everybody is going to agree with them.