Phi Beta Cons

A Preferences Advocate Wants “Transparency”

College officials who advocate the use of racial preferences have had to hide their real motives behind spurious claims about “educational benefits.” In this Chronicle piece, Rebecca Zwick (a senior researcher at the Educational Testing Service and professor emerita at UC Santa Barbara) says that it would be better if we could just be transparent about using race.

“Ironically,” she writes, “it is the court itself that has created this state of affairs. In the interest of pursuing a more just society, colleges should be allowed to use preferences for underrepresented minorities. Any racial preferences should be explicit, not buried in a mysterious process.”

Bravo at least for honesty. College officials, I’m sure, know that the educational benefits talk is nonsense; they just like the feeling that they’re doing useful social engineering — pursuing a more just society as Zwick says.

The problem is that their belief is completely mistaken. Deciding that some applicants are more desirable than others merely on account of the happenstance of their ancestry does not do anything to make our a more just society. In fact, it does the very opposite. It cements into place the damaging idea that groups are entitled to equality. America does not in any way become more just simply because a few students with better academic profiles are rejected by Harvard in favor of a few students who have weaker profiles but have the preferred racial background.

It speaks volumes about the “progressive” mind that they believe it advances justice to shuffle a small number of students “up” into a more prestigious college while at the same time shuffling a few other students into their backup schools.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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