In today’s Pope Center piece, National Association of Scholars president Peter Wood looks at the Fisher case, focusing in particular on the notion that universities need to have a “critical mass” of students from “underrepresented groups” in order to realize the supposed benefits of “diversity.”
“It would be ideal,” Wood writes, “if the Court in Fisher would recognize that the University of Texas has been unable to show any legitimate academic justification for its preference regime. Its ‘educational benefits’ claims are empty.” That’s certainly correct. The “educational benefits” theory only survived in earlier litigation, especially the Grutter case, because a majority of the Court was willing to defer to the assertions of the pro-preference crowd that they knew their schools were doing a better job of educating students because they were engineering just the right percentages of students from various racial and ethnic groups.
As to the “critical mass” concept that Texas says it needs, Wood replies, “No ‘critical mass’ of minority students in a calculus class makes learning calculus any easier for the preferred students or intellectually richer for the non-preferred ones. This applies to every rigorous college subject.” But what about all those soft, non-rigorous ones? Wood writes, “When it comes to the softer subjects….many of those courses have been intellectually compromised by faculty members who use them as opinion forums, or worse, to inculcate political views. In those circumstances, the ‘critical mass’ of preferred students may influence the tenor of the class in the direction of foregrounding social grievances at the expense of all other content.”
Finally, will the spate of recent campus protests have any effect? Wood suggests that they should: “Both the protesters and the compliant college administrators speak the language of ’social justice,’ not the language of ‘enriching intellectual experience.’ In truth, it has become glaringly apparent that demands for more ‘diversity’ are antithetical to a true learning environment.”
The Center has devoted two articles to the Fisher case because it is so important. The mania for “diversity” has had numerous bad effects on our campuses and the nation would be well-served by a Court opinion holding — finally — that colleges need to be color-blind in their admissions.