Nine states have adopted measures to ban the use of racial preferences by the government, including the use of preferences in admissions for state colleges and universities. In North Carolina, there is a move in the legislature to put a ban on preferences to a vote of the people next year.
The Martin Center’s Shannon Watkins recently interviewed Wenyuan Wu, who is the executive director of Californians for Civil Rights, and we publish it here.
Wu argues that racial preferences have not been beneficial to “underrepresented” groups: “In reality, when we look at say, for example, the academic achievement of underrepresented minorities at various privileged universities, like Ivy League schools and some flagship state universities, you see that both the graduation and matriculation rates of underrepresented minorities have stayed stagnant or even declined in the last 35 years or so. ”
That is true, and I would only add that for most students (no matter their racial background), going to an elite college doesn’t necessarily mean getting a better education. In fact, the elite schools often give undergraduates little attention; students might learn more at an institution where the faculty has time for them.
Furthermore, Wu notes that a strong majority of the people dislike the idea of basing admission decisions on racial quotas: “According to a 2019 Pew Research poll, over 74 percent of Americans do not support the consideration of race in college admissions, they support the merit-based consideration. And the same type of public opinion trends can also be found in similar polls like that: A 2016 Gallup poll, and also many other state ballot electoral results, such as the ‘no on 16’ vote in California and a vote against affirmative action in Washington State back in 2019.”
Even in far-left California, a strong majority voted in favor of keeping the race-neutrality language in the state’s constitution when the question was on the ballot last year.
Wu concludes, “The public has spoken. American people do not want racial preferences as a bandage to solve past discrimination or present inequities. We intuitively realize that—even though we have these achievement gaps and racial disparities in many areas, not just education, but also wealth, access to public services, etc.—racial preference is not the answer.”