So on we go – make that, on our major universities go, sorting out applicants by race, for the high-minded purpose of…
Of what? You really can’t tell at the end of the day, so complex and yet opaque are the machinations behind “affirmative action” in admissions. Edward Blum, director of the legal defense group Project on Fair Representation, which sees affirmative action as racial discrimination, keeps pushing back all the same. His campaign has an interesting new twist; to wit, that Harvard, seeking racial balance in enrollment, discriminates against Asian-Americans.
Blum, representing a second-generation Asian-American student with perfect ACT and SAT II scores, who was nevertheless rejected for admission to Harvard, filed suit against the school the other day. Rather than use race-neutral alternatives in judging admissions, the suit says the school caps Asian-American admissions, using racial balance “to keep white enrollment more than twice as high as Asian-American enrollment.” That’s despite Asian-Americans’ making up 27 percent of the applicant pool and 46 percent of the highest achievers.”
But, then, what did affirmative action ever have to do with academic excellence or the prospect thereof? From the start, in the 1960s, the process has been mainly about pushing non-whites up the academic ladder through the exclusion of academic credentials as the chief factor in granting college admissions.
Asian-Americans, though identifiable as a non-white ethnic group, are out of luck at Harvard. Too many of them are too qualified. Blum’s lawsuit seeks to abolish that liability – though probably no one thinks the courts are ready to throw over four decades of jurisprudence that allows the universities to deny they are doing what they’re actually doing, which is discriminating by race.
Good for Blum anyway. The cause of fairness needs its bulldogs. Blum qualifies. An earlier suit against his own alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin, recently led the U. S. Supreme Court to demand of the lower courts enhanced scrutiny of UT’s affirmative action maneuvers. The same day he filed suit against Harvard, Blum went to court in behalf of a white student denied admission to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The need to encourage more and more students of all races to undertake college study goes without saying. Methods matter at least as much as goals, nonetheless. If racial discrimination was a bad thing 50 years ago, what makes it a good thing now – not to mention a constructive and socially annealing thing? Anyone with a plausible answer, please communicate it to Ed Blum.