Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

‘The Power of Race’


That’s the title of a long article today in Inside Higher Ed, which discusses a new book, No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life, by Thomas J. Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford. Doesn’t sound to me like there’s a lot of new ground covered in the book, though it sounds less knee-jerk-left than is usual, and the new data in the book show what the old data in other books and studies have shown. So here’s the comment I posted (“Racial discrimination is just not worth it”):

There are two forests here that should not be obscured by the trees:  First, there is a lot of racial discrimination in admissions taking place; and, second, the purported beneficiaries of such discrimination perform significantly worse academically than other students.  The justification for such discrimination is the supposed educational benefits of a racially diverse student body.  Those benefits are dubious, but even if they exist, they are simply not worth the costs of racial discrimination, namely:  It is personally unfair, passes over better qualified students, and sets a disturbing legal, political, and moral precedent in allowing racial discrimination; it creates resentment; it stigmatizes the so-called beneficiaries in the eyes of their classmates, teachers, and themselves, as well as future employers, clients, and patients; it fosters a victim mindset, removes the incentive for academic excellence, and encourages separatism; it compromises the academic mission of the university and lowers the overall academic quality of the student body; it creates pressure to discriminate in grading and graduation; it breeds hypocrisy within the school; it encourages a scofflaw attitude among college officials; it mismatches students and institutions, guaranteeing failure or academic underperformance for many of the former; it papers over the real social problem of why so many African Americans and Latinos are academically uncompetitive; and it gets states and schools involved in unsavory activities like deciding which racial and ethnic minorities will be favored and which ones not, and how much blood is needed to establish group membership.


Subscribe to National Review