Phi Beta Cons

Affirmative-Action Fantasy

According to The Cavalier Daily, Susan Palmer, dean of admissions at the University of Virginia Law School, insists that law schools believe affirmative action, also known as diversity, to have great educational benefits.  ”The law school does not have lectures but, rather, lively discussion,” said Palmer. The opinions a student brings to the classroom are not limited to preparation for class but also include the student’s background, which may include a person’s gender, sexual preference, or religion, Palmer said.  “Every law school in the county wants to have the liveliest possible mix — is race a part of it? Yes, it is,” Palmer said.

This is actually nonsense. Jeffrey Rosen who teaches law and is a supporter of affirmative action, has conceded that race in the classroom “is an imprecise and often unsatisfying proxy for intellectual diversity.” In what should be no surprise to anyone not blinded by ideology, he has often found that “the views expressed by African American students on both sides of the political spectrum were indistinguishable from the views of other students.” ( ”How I Learned to Love Quotas, New York Times Magazine, 1 June 2003)
Plus, according to another New York Times article (“Where Race Matters, 13 April 2003), by Jodi  Wilgoren, affirmative action and diversity have brought strain and tenstion to the University of Michigan Law School. Wilgoren, who also writes from a point of view sympathetic to affirmative action and diversity, visited the school and found that the black students huddle together in almost every class, and that everyone “shuts up” when the race issue arises. Wilgoren also notes that “in the cramped corner devoted to the Black Law Students Alliance, everyone has a story of being stigmatized, of being presumed less qualified, of being looked to as an adovocate for some particular perspective.”
Lively discussion indeed. 
Meanwhile, David E. Bernstein, a law professor at George Mason University, remarks that affirmative action and diversity in law schools do nothing about the fact that many minorities accepted into law schools do not pass the Bar exam upon graduation, nor do many even graduate.
“They have not resolved the problem in getting the people they have recruited to actually become lawyers,” he said.

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