James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal has a recurrent joke in his column where he asks, “Fox Butterfield, Is That You?” The reference is to a New York Times reporter who wrote about how crime was going down, yet the number of people in prison had increased. That is, the clueless journalist saw a contradiction in two things that were not contradictory at all – in fact, conservatives might have predicted one to follow from the other.
Mr. Butterfield came to mind today as I read this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, headlined, “Colleges Seek Diversity, but ‘Admissions Calculus’ Hasn’t Changed.” The first paragraph of the article notes that a report released today by the American Council on Education found that “Few selective colleges have changed their admissions practices since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin two years ago,” and “Yet many institutions … have since embraced various strategies” for increasing racial “diversity” among their students.
The article, in other words, seems to think that there is something inconsistent between schools ignoring the Supreme Court’s decision of two years ago — which said that schools had to be more careful about engaging in racial admissions discrimination — and schools continuing to engage in such discrimination. There is, of course, no inconsistency at all between the two: Schools are adamant about wanting to discriminate, and so they ignore a Supreme Court ruling that would get in their way.
Let me note another curiosity from the executive summary of the report itself. That summary concludes:
Institutions across the selectivity spectrum are hungry for research and guidance in the Fisher context. When presented with four areas for additional research or guidance that could be the most helpful post- Fisher, participants prioritized them this way:
- Research on the educational impact of campus diversity (58 percent overall; 74 percent of more selective private institutions)
- Research and guidance on what constitutes a “critical mass” of diverse students within their institutional context and how to achieve it (54 percent overall; 82 percent of more selective public institutions)
- Research on the diversity effects of admissions strategies where race-conscious admissions practices are prohibited (42 percent overall; 64 percent of more selective public institutions)
- Methodological research and guidance on assessing the diversity effects of alternatives to race-conscious admissions (38 percent; 69 percent of more selective private institutions)
Do you get the idea from this that schools have already decided that they are going to achieve “diversity,” by hook or by crook, and that they are looking for an after-the-fact justification for this decision? In other words, they have not reached a good-faith, objective conclusion that diversity improves educational outcomes; rather, they have decided that they want to have diversity, and they want someone else to document the existence of those improved outcomes. Trouble is, the Supreme Court’s decision in Grutter v. Bollinger is premised on the former.