Phi Beta Cons

Conundrums Regarding Preferences for “Hispanic” Students

Weak as the argument for preferences for black students is, it’s strong as steel compared with the argument that students who happen to have some “Hispanic” ancestry deserve special treatment by elite colleges and universities. Their ancestors weren’t enslaved; on the contrary, some were conquistadors who extended Spanish dominion over native peoples. Including “Hispanics” (or “Latina/o”) among the preferred groups makes no sense other than as a political ploy.

In this Discriminations post, John Rosenberg observes that giving preferred group status to “Hispanics” involves some conundrums. For example, some Brazilians trace their ancestry to Americans who fled the Confederacy after the end of the Civil War. Because Brazil is regarded as “Hispanic” (even though the language is Portuguese), if a young Brazilian of such lineage were to apply to one of our prestige universities, he or she would get the Hispanic preference.

Why don’t we just call the whole thing off?

George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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