The Rejection of Suzy Weiss

Over on the homepage, Hans von Spakovsky reflects on the recent Wall Street Journal piece by Suzy Weiss, a student upset over the fact that she was turned down by the “elite” colleges to which she applied. He thinks it pretty clear that she lost out at those schools because of racial preferences that worked against her. 

The argument raised in defense of such preferences is that it allows school officials to create a more diverse, more “interesting” student body, which benefits everyone. I don’t think I have ever seen any effort at demonstrating later that the preferentially admitted students actually did anything particularly noteworthy while in school. Most of the URM (underrepresented minority) students are hardly any different from the rest of the student body and don’t add anything in particular. 

Thomas Sowell had a good observation about this in his book Inside American Education:

What will look “rich and interesting” to superficial people can of course differ greatly from what scholars who are masters of their respective intellectual disciplines will find to be students able to plumb the depths of what they have to offer. Dull-looking nerds can revolutionize the intellectual landscape and produce marvels of science, even if their life stories would never make a good movie or television mini-series.

I’m not saying that Miss Weiss had a right to be admitted to any of her top picks. I’m not saying that private schools don’t have the right to set their own standards. What I am saying is that the arguments offered in favor of preferring some students over others simply on account of their ancestry are weak.

George Leef — George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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