NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Rise of Faux Diversity

December 14, 2012

Legal challenges to the University of Texas' admissions policies involving diversity are underway in the Supreme Court. But even if the Supreme Court strikes down the use of race as a determining factor in admissions, the institutionalized racism and discrimination of university race-conscious admissions criteria will not necessarily be eliminated, says Bruce S. Thornton, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

  • Promoting diversity as a justification for race-based admissions has been institutionalized into many schools with the 1978 Bakke v. University of California case.
  • The 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger case reaffirmed the Bakke ruling that there is a compelling state interest to obtain the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.
  • In 80 percent of elite schools, racial preferences can give minority students an advantage equivalent to a 100 point increase in SAT scores.

Decades later, there is little empirical evidence about what educational benefits can be derived from promoting diversity. Moreover, there is no specific definition of what diversity is, which has allowed schools broad authority when using race for admission purposes.

Over the decades, school administrators and politicians have not kept pace with the complexities of diversity in America. For example, a poor, Catholic, Mexican-Indian immigrant would be considered Hispanic, as would a third generation Mexican-American, despite having little in common.

There are other things that schools need to consider such as economic class, ethnicity, regions, political views and religion. A poor child whose parents came from Russia would simply be lumped into the category "white."

Indeed, using the logic of advocates of race-based admissions, it may make sense to admit more religious believers because schools today are secular and could use the educational benefits that religious students bring to the school.

There are several reasons that making race a factor in admissions can be counterproductive:

  • First, there is self-segregation between people on many campuses, which prevents students from interacting and learning from one another.
  • Second, there is a stigma that students feel when admitted under less stringent criteria.
  • Third, minority students have lower grades and often higher dropout rates.

Source: Bruce S. Thornton, "The Rise of Faux Diversity," Hoover Institute, November 29, 2012.


Browse more articles on Education Issues