Phi Beta Cons

Unlikely Allies

The Chronicle of Higher Education this week published its annual “Special Report:  Diversity in Academe,” and I’m doing my best to read through it.  

I’ve noticed, however, at least three pieces so far that offer more or less direct support for getting rid of racial and ethnic preferences (of course, probably they all provide indirect support for it, one way or another).  

There’s an excerpt from Sheryll Cashin’s new book, Place Not Race, which argues (along lines similar to Richard Kahlenberg’s over the years) that preferences should be based on socioeconomic  status rather than skin color. There is also a Latina student who doesn’t like being labeled “underprivileged” just because of her ethnicity.

And there is an article by a mixed-white-and-Asian academic who has decided he will now check the “white” box instead of the “Asian” box, because Asians in his department are no longer considered “underrepresented” and are, in fact, probably now considered to have met their quota. Now, this professor is, I suspect, not yet at the point where he will be tithing to the Center for Equal Opportunity, but the realization that some nonwhites are getting discriminated against in the name of “diversity” has certainly got him thinking.  (Silliest line in his piece:  “A white colleague remarked that no one seems to complain that we have too many white faculty members when we add to their numbers.”  Uh huh.)

One other thing:  As I’ve often noted, just because it is, alas, legal to use racial and ethnic preferences in choosing students does not mean it is legal to use racial and ethnic preferences in selecting faculty. The fact is, the applicable statutes are different, and the federal courts have never recognized (and some have rejected) the notion of a “diversity” defense for employment discrimination.

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