Phi Beta Cons

A Modest Proposal

From the comment thread of that Inside Higher Ed piece I mentioned earlier today:

It is neither possible nor desirable to exclude race from consideration in college admissions. But as the author points out, accurate determination of race can be difficult:

“Race can appear in more than just a personal narrative. Will we then be asked to disregard students’ names?”

This illustrates one of the most difficult problems admissions officers have to face. Suppose a person with a name like “Obama” applies. We would know from his name that he should get extra admission points. But how many? And what about an applicant named “Jackson”? It could be a black person who deserves a boost. But it could also be a privileged white person.

In the past it wasn’t always possible to correct for these uncertainties. Today, however, by asking applicants to submit a simple cheek swab with their college applications, we can eliminate all subjectivity. This is what we now do at my institution. Full-blooded individuals from state-approved groups are readily identified and are awarded eight extra admission points; half-breeds are awarded four; quadroons receive two; and octoroons one point.

By permitting accurate racial classification, genetic testing can now help to eliminate the errors that had formerly been made by admissions officers in less advanced times.

–Director of Admissions, University of Civilizations, at 12:55 pm EST on November 18, 2008

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