Here’s more “Commentary” in The Chronicle of Higher Education that takes aim at the “mismatch” critique of racial preferences — that is, the assertion that admitting students with lower qualifications than their other-race counterparts sets the former up for academic failure, and that they would be more successful if they went to schools where their academic qualifications were on par with everyone else’s. The work of Richard Sander et al. that documents the truth of this critique must be getting to the diversiphiles: How galling to be told that their selfless discrimination against white and Asian students is actually hurting the African American and Latino “beneficiaries.”
The mismatch theory aside, it is significant that the most recent CHE piece admits that “perhaps most” of the black and Latino students who are admitted to the Rice University programs with which the author has been involved are “less prepared than most of their fellow students are.” It is also admitted that, above a certain threshold, admissions are determined not by the highest scores but “by other factors.” The admissions folks must believe that a student will be “successful,” but having a politically correct racial and ethnic mix of students is apparently more important than trying to admit those students likely to be the *most* successful.
Two other points. First, “[t]o retain underrepresented-minority students,” a special program (with mentoring, etc.) has been set up. Now, if the program is open only to students of particular racial and ethnic backgrounds, it is illegal; in all events, the fact that such a program has to be set up is obviously at odds with diminishing “stereotype threat” and increasing the students’ “confidence,” the importance of which the apologists for preferences are otherwise at pains to emphasize.
Second, the Commentary makes no attempt to explain why racial and ethnic diversity is relevant at all in the field that is the author’s, namely mathematics. I don’t buy the diversity argument in any field, but at least it has some superficial plausibility in, say, a sociology classroom. But math?