The Corner

Why California Schools Want to Discriminate

There’s a long article in the Wall Street Journal today about how, in California, “Colleges [Are] Straining to Restore Diversity.” The article discusses how black and Latino admissions for the system’s very top schools at Berkeley and UCLA are down — though not at the other schools, and that graduation rates for blacks and Latinos have gone up. And it talks about the argument that real diversity might be better achieved by considering socioeconomic status rather than skin color.

But here’s what is most noteworthy: In this long article that is quite sympathetic to the efforts of the diversicrats, there is exactly one sentence about why schools should want to discriminate on the basis of race in their admissions. It reads, “When the state’s most elite universities are less diverse, [a school official] said, ‘It doesn’t provide our students with a level of diversity they need in order to learn about other cultures and other communities,’ which she says is important for the state’s future leaders.” That is, indeed, a fair statement of what the “diversity” rationale – the only argument now made by schools to the courts – boils down to. That is, schools want to engage in systematic racial discrimination because they think it might improve the likelihood that random interracial conversations will occur in which black and Latino students will teach white and Asian students things about “other cultures and other communities” that they could not learn any other way. That’s the schools’ “compelling interest.”

And that’s supposed to outweigh all these costs of 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 mismatches African Americans and Latinos with institutions, setting them up for failure; 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 and encourages a scofflaw attitude among college officials; 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 – an untenable legal regime as America becomes an increasingly multiracial, multiethnic society and as individual Americans are themselves more and more likely to be multiracial and multiethnic (starting with our president).


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