The Corner

Slightly Different

Jonah quotes with approval a reader who claims that racist college admissions policy (a/k/a “affirmative action”) is bad because the policy “punishes meretricious applicants who happen to be neither minorities nor legacies.” Well, I think that’s debatable. “Meretricious” means “having the character of a prostitute”, and it’s certainly true that more meretricious students would make it easier for some other students to get a little satisfaction. On the other hand, a secondary meaning of “meretricious” is “showily but falsely attractive,” and it’s hard to see what benefit most colleges would get more from students like that. Such students could just skip college, and go directly into college administration. Personally, I think it would be better for colleges to focus on attracting meritorious students–perhaps including some former meretricians who want to learn a new profession.


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