Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

Racial Preferences and the Service Academies


The Chronicle of Higher Education today reports that a proposed revision in the Department of Defense’s directives to the service academies would limit their use of racial preferences in admission.  The academies use affiliated preparatory schools to provide an additional year of instruction to students viewed as not quite ready to enter the academies themselves; the proposed revision would eliminate a reference to “minorities, including women” as among the groups that should be given “primary consideration for enrollment” at the prep schools.

This proposed change is fine, so far as it goes (although the Chronicle reports that even it is meeting with resistance at the Air Force academy).  But the Chronicle article also reports—and earlier studies by the Center for Equal Opportunity confirm—that the “service academies continue to give consideration to race and ethnicity in their admissions decisions, and none of the changes being considered by the Pentagon would end that practice.”  Well, why DOESN’T the Pentagon end that practice?  

Aside from the usual diversity gibberish, the argument has been made that it simply won’t do to have an officer corps that doesn’t reflect the ethnic makeup of those they are leading.  But when asked about this at the Supreme Court oral argument in the University of Michigan cases, the Solicitor General for the Bush administration said that “the position of the United States is that we do not accept the proposition that black soldiers will only fight for black officers or the reverse [and] that race neutral means should be used in the academies as well as other places.”   Just so.


Subscribe to National Review