On Monday morning, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for a pair of suits from Students for Fair Admissions, targeting Harvard and UNCs race-conscious admissions programs.
Racial discrimination is naturally divisive, even when the purpose of said discrimination is of good intent. America cannot repair the damage done by historical racism by continuing to perpetuate racial discrimination, particularly when that discrimination directly disparages another group.
Under precedents set by decisions in University of California v. Bakke, Grutter v. Bollinger, and Fisher v. Texas, race may be considered as just one factor among many others during a holistic review of applicants. Colleges also may not impose strict racial quotas, or penalize students for being a member of a certain race. However, this is intrinsically impossible under the current framework.
College admission is a zero-sum game in which the acceptance of a particular applicant means the rejection of another. The elevation of a particular applicant due to their race means that another applicant is missing out on a spot due to their ethnicity alone, not their merit as a prospective student.
The scale at which this suppression disparages Asian American students is reprehensible. The Justice Department has found that Asian applicants to Yale are as much as 8 times less likely to be admitted when compared with Black students. Harvard is no better. They use a “personal rating” for each applicant, which is consistently lower for Asian-American applicants despite the group having higher average GPA’s, test scores, academic ratings, extracurricular ratings, and scores during the interview process.
When my high school classmates and I were applying to colleges, I was saddened to speak with my Asian-American peers and learn that they were deliberately trying to disguise or suppress their race in hopes of being accepted to their dream school. Race tells you absolutely nothing about an individual person, so why use it as a factor in admissions?
Colleges aren’t maliciously racist in these processes; they use race as a predictive stand-in for a number of other socioeconomic factors. However, colleges would be much better served by using income, region, education access, and other socioeconomic factors themselves in order to make determinations on admissions.
In her 2003 majority opinion in Grutter v. Bollinger, Conservative Justice Sandra Day O’Connor ruled in favor of narrowly tailored race-conscious admissions programs. She wrote in her opinion that “We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today.”
While we have not achieved perfect racial equality in the 19 years since that decision, we have made progress, and it is time that we eliminate racist affirmative action policies and work towards alternative remedies to racial disparities.
In lieu of the current race-conscious framework largely in use now, universities could consider students that come from disadvantaged backgrounds, first generation college students, children of immigrants, or a bevy of other indicators of the absence of educational privilege.
Affirmative action policies serve a noble cause, but still they promote racial divides and disparage certain groups. Rather than use race as a blanket consideration, colleges ought to consider the whole applicant and examine the factors that generate unique perspectives, rather than simply skin color.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.