Phi Beta Cons

“You Shouldn’t Have Quotas. Really!”

Just finished reading the College Board’s “Admissions and Diversity after Michigan: The Next Generation of Legal and Policy Issues.” Now, this how-to manual for university administrators is written by two former Clinton administration officials, so there is much in it that I don’t especially cotton to, but the subtext (whether intended or not) is very helpful: If a university insists on using racial and ethnic admission preferences, it should do so transparently; it will have to be extremely careful and sparing in the weight given race and ethnicity; and it will require a lot of administrative time, expense, and trouble to ensure that the school doesn’t end up on the losing end of a lawsuit. Here’s hoping that many schools decide that discrimination is just not worth the trouble.


The highlight of the manual for me, however, was this little box on page 17: “The Bottom Line. Brainstorm and evaluate—to ensure that the full range of strategies (including race-neutral strategies) has been seriously considered in the context of how best to achieve diversity goals. Remember that the use of race or ethnicity is a means to an end—not an end itself.  Really!”


That “Really!” really says it all. These two lawyers telling the various deans for diversity that they’re not supposed to have quotas is like a young naval officer telling his sailors that, when they go on shore leave this time, they should not drink or fornicate. The “Really!” means:  “Look, I know that this sounds completely crazy to you and is contrary to everything you’ve ever done, but I’m actually asking you to do this, believe it or not.”

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