Phi Beta Cons

Two Things

Two short items. 

First, the Chronicle of Higher Education has done all of us a great favor by collecting a baker’s dozen of its favorite Onion pieces on higher education topics.  My favorite is #8:  “Minority Student’s Perspective Better Be Pretty Goddamn Diverse If He Wants Full Scholarship.”  Many a truth was spoken in jest, and many of the truths the Onion speaks here are politically incorrect.

On the other hand, Inside Higher Ed did no one a favor by printing yet another slam against what are called “colorblind” practices — and on Martin Luther King Day, no less.  Here’s my posted response:

Three points. First, with regard to hiring and promoting faculty (as opposed to the admission of graduate students), it is almost always illegal to use preferences based on race, ethnicity, and sex. See here.

Second, while unfortunately such discrimination is allowed in student admissions, it is increasingly (and rightly) disfavored and will be barred sooner or later; and not only is the article correct in its concession that there has been no court decision banning admission practices that have only a “disparate impact,” it is extremely unlikely that any court would do so, since the Supreme Court has said that the applicable federal laws (the Constitution and Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act), ban only “disparate treatment” and not mere “disparate impact.”

Third, it is laudable to be aggressive in rooting out actual discrimination, but discrimination against anyone because of race or ethnicity should be rejected; likewise, it is also fine to get rid of admissions criteria that eliminate students who are actually better qualified than those who are actually chosen, but those criteria should be eliminated because they are defective, not because they have a particular racial and ethnic result: If a criterion were disqualifying white or Asian students who were better qualified than black and Latino students who were actually chosen, that criterion should discarded, too.

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