There was a dubious Associated Press story over the weekend about how California public universities are having to struggle to achieve “diversity” — defined as a student body that reflects the general population of the state — since Proposition 209 banned racial preferences in admissions there in 1996.
What has changed in California since it has gotten rid of admissions discrimination is not that fewer Latinos and African Americans are getting into the state’s public universities, but that they are going to schools where their academic qualifications are on par with the other students’.
There’s nothing wrong with that — to the contrary, it’s fairer to the Asian and white kids who used to be discriminated against, and it’s better for the Latino and African American kids, too, since their grades, graduation, and other indices of performance have all gone up.
The supposed benefits of admissions discrimination are all bogus: They tend to help the well-to-do, not the disadvantaged, and there is no justification for setting a quota determined by the general population (cf. the quota that used to be put on Jews by Ivy League schools).
And this article generally ignores the costs of such discrimination: 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 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.
Q.E.D.: Racial preferences ought not to be used.