The Corner


The Admissions Scandal and Racial Preferences

Students on the campus of Harvard University in 2009 (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

The recent revelation concerning college admissions is disconcerting, but not any more than racial preferences in admissions.

As Roger Clegg notes below, the Left, never letting a scandal go to waste, immediately leapt on the admissions scandal as a justification for racial preferences. The disingenuousness of their argument is matched only by its incoherence.

Ever since Grutter v. Michigan, the lie about racial preferences is that a college applicant’s race is only considered as a flexible plus factor, a mere feather on the scale, in the admissions process. The truth, however, is that in nearly every case race is not a feather on the scale, but an anvil. At some universities race renders a black or Hispanic applicant not 10 percent more likely to be admitted over a similarly situated white or Asian comparative; not even 15 percent more likely to be admitted. Rather, at some selective schools the racial preference makes black and Hispanic applicants up to 500 times more likely to be admitted than similarly situated white and Asian applicants.

As Stuart Taylor notes, during the discovery process in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard  (the pending complaint brought by Asian students alleging racial discrimination in Harvard’s admissions program) documents produced by Harvard showed that the average combined SAT scores of Asian students admitted between 2010 — 2015 were 218 points higher than those of black admittees.

That’s Harvard, which attracts applications from, ostensibly, the most gifted high school students, regardless of race, in the country. At other prestigious schools the admissions preferences for black and Hispanic students are the equivalent of  adding a full 400 points to their respective SAT scores. The weight added to black and Hispanic GPAs often is just as profound.

How does someone with a 1100 combined SAT score and a 3.0 GPA compete against someone with a 1500 SAT and 3.86 GPA? Not very well. That’s a major reason why black and Hispanic students are far more likely to cluster in the bottom quartile of their respective classes and far more likely not to graduate. This, despite rampant grade inflation and watered down curricula.

The fraud and corruption revealed by the recent admissions scandal is only a very small part of the problem with college admissions. A major correction is necessary, beginning with transparency.

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

The Sinking Collusion Ship

The entire Trump-Russia collusion narrative was always implausible. One, the Washington swamp of fixers such as Paul Manafort and John and Tony Podesta was mostly bipartisan and predated Trump. Two, the Trump administration’s Russia policies were far tougher on Vladimir Putin than were those of Barack ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Problem with Certainty

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Including those of you having this read to you while you white-knuckle the steering wheel trying to get to wherever you’re going for the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Worst Cover-Up of All Time

President Donald Trump may be guilty of many things, but a cover-up in the Mueller probe isn’t one of them. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, attempting to appease forces in the Democratic party eager for impeachment, is accusing him of one, with all the familiar Watergate connotations. The charge is strange, ... Read More

Theresa May: A Political Obituary

On Friday, Theresa May, perhaps the worst Conservative prime minister in recent history, announced her resignation outside of number 10 Downing Street. She will step down effective June 7. “I have done my best,” she insisted. “I have done everything I can. . . . I believe it was right to persevere even ... Read More
PC Culture

TV Before PC

Affixing one’s glance to the rear-view mirror is usually as ill-advised as staring at one’s own reflection. Still, what a delight it was on Wednesday to see a fresh rendition of “Those Were the Days,” from All in the Family, a show I haven’t watched for nearly 40 years. This time it was Woody Harrelson ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Democrats’ Other Class War

There is a class war going on inside the Democratic party. Consider these two cris de couer: Writing in the New York Times under the headline “America’s Cities Are Unlivable — Blame Wealthy Liberals,” Farhad Manjoo argues that rich progressives have, through their political domination of cities such as ... Read More

The Deepfake of Nancy Pelosi

You’ve almost made it to a three-day weekend! Making the click-through worthwhile: A quick note about how National Review needs your help, concerns about “deepfakes” of Nancy Pelosi, one of the most cringe-inducing radio interviews of all time, some news about where to find me and the book in the near ... Read More

America’s Best Defense Against Socialism

The United States of America has flummoxed socialists since the nineteenth century. Marx himself couldn’t quite understand why the most advanced economy in the world stubbornly refused to transition to socialism. Marxist theory predicts the immiseration of the proletariat and subsequent revolution from below. ... Read More