college admissions

Students at the University of Michigan ignited a discussion of race at the University of Michigan last week, with a bit of help from social media.

The Detroit Free Press reports:

The University of Michigan tweeted thanks to the contributors for engaging in the conversation and promised their voices would be heard.

A sample of student tweets includes the following:

@paperframes:#BBUM is the constant assumption that you only got in because of affirmative action.”

@LehmanRobinson: “Personally, I’ve enjoyed my experiences , they’ve helped shape me into the diverse individual that I am today and I am proud of it.”

@HeyyyDramaQueen: “we’re only looked at as tokens…token black students who.they can say …yeah we graduated some black smart people just for display

@iDion__: “Only black person in my class

The University of Michigan has been ground zero for the battle over racial preferences in college admissions, with the two most famous Supreme Court cases concerning the issue, Grutter v. Bolliger and Gratz v. Bollinger, originating at the university.

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Jennifer Gratz, a civil rights activist and prominent critic of racial preferences in college admissions, writes about a crucial upcoming Supreme Court decision:

In 2006, Michigan voters overwhelmingly passed the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative… Even though the MCRI passed with a margin of 58 to 42, the radical group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) immediately filed to have it overturned in court…

BAMN insists that the amendment is unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause because the legal impact of banning race preferences falls wholly upon, and thus targets, certain powerless minorities. Here, the foundation of their argument is that preferences are in fact maintained not for society as a whole but for the benefit of specific minorities.

Supporters of race preferences now have conflicting arguments. They’ve argued before the Supreme Court that race preferences are primarily for the benefit of everyone. But in the fall they will argue in front of the same court that race preferences are primarily for the benefit of minorities. It would be impossible for the Court to accept that logic without undermining the legal basis for affirmative action.


The tide of public opinion has turned against racial preferences in college admissions.

According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll out today, 76% of Americans oppose allowing universities to consider race as a factor in college admissions.

That’s good news, and shows that most Americans understand that reverse discrimination is not the path to greater racial equality.

Why is it then that so many universities continue to factor in race in their admissions decisions? Why is it that elite college administrators seem to be so out of step with the views of most Americans?

Martin Luther King famously longed for the day when men would be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. It’s a shame so many in the left-wing academic establishment remain committed to racial preferences.

Although members of some ethnic minority groups do, on average, face various economic and cultural obstacles, it will only be after we embrace truly color-blind policies in college admissions that we can begin to acknowledge the real cause of minority educational under achievement, which is the catastrophic breakdown of the traditional two-parent family. This is a problem that is, increasingly, affecting all racial and ethnic groups, not just minorities.

The evolving views of the American public on the issue of racial preferences gives us reason to hope that the academic establishment cannot long continue their policies of reverse racial discrimination.

Justice requires equal treatment, regardless of race. That’s something a majority of Americans, in their hearts, understand.

Nathan Harden is editor of The College Fix and author of SEX & GOD AT YALE: Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad.

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Fix contributor Elaina Plott reports for the NY Observer on a big fat case of–I can’t believe he said that, Twitter edition:

It seems that for NYU’s PhD programs, fat people need not apply.

Geoffrey Miller, a visiting evolutionary psychology professor at NYU, is under fire for divulging his distasteful feelings yesterday on the PhD application process.

The since-deleted tweet read: “Dear obese PhD applicants: If you don’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation. #truth.”

Miller’s tweet sparked instant outrage across internet news blogs and opinion sites, and among his colleagues at NYU.

…Dr. Miller quickly backtracked, subsequently tweeting that “Obviously my previous tweet does not represent the selection policies of any university, or my own selection criteria…sincere apologies to all for that idiotic, impulsive, and badly judged tweet.”

Not everyone has been quick to accept Miller’s apology. As Elizabeth Brown of wrote, “I love when people publicly say something stupid and then insist that it doesn’t reflect their true “views, values or standards.” So you’re a dolt and a hypocrite, then? Cool; glad we got that covered!

Our prediction? Fat-bashing was probably not a very good career move for “visiting professor” Miller–especially in an age when words live forever online, following you from one academic job interview to another for the rest of your life.

As The Daily Caller recently reported, 1 in 10 young people are denied jobs because employers look at social media accounts (like Twitter) and don’t like what they see.

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Roger Clegg writes at NRO about a revealing email exchange he had with a reader whose college-bound son apparently had the wrong skin color:

My son and his very good female friend have attended the same small Christian elementary school & high school. Their academic qualifications are nearly identical — top 2 students in their classes, same level of leadership & extracurricular activities, both with SAT scores 2100 or above, straight A honors students, he is president of the NHS Chapter, she of the Student Council.

They live in the same town, have gone to the same schools with the same teachers, same friends, same books, same classes, etc. etc. They were in theater together at school, in band together, on the same track & soccer teams. They are both middle class. They applied to many of the same colleges & were interviewed by the same alumni for Harvard & Princeton. My son’s friend’s father is African American. She was accepted at every elite school that she applied to — Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Georgetown & other Tier 1 schools. My son was not accepted at any of the elite schools that he applied to, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Pomona, Middlebury, Williams, Amherst and Bowdoin…

There’s much more to this story. Read the full article here.

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A Supreme Court decision on whether universities can use race as an admissions factor is expected by June, however the court of public opinion has already weighed in on the matter – and Americans of all stripes stand largely against affirmative action, according to a variety of recent polls.

In those surveys, at least half if not more of those polled voiced opposition to race-based preferences.

Take a Rasmussen national telephone survey, which found only 24 percent of likely voters were in favor of using race as a factor in college admissions, while 55 percent stood opposed, and the rest were undecided. That survey was conducted 11 months ago.

More recently, a survey released in October found that 57 percent of Americans ages 18 to 25 – so-called young millennials – are opposed to racial preferences in college admissions or hiring decisions. In other words, nearly six out of every 10 opposed the practice.

“Although most younger millennials are firmly opposed to affirmative action programs in college admissions, relatively few report that they were hurt in the college admissions process because of their race or gender,” states a report on the results of the survey, conducted by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, & World Affairs at Georgetown University and the Public Religion Research Institute.

Results also indicated 47 percent of those in that age group “oppose programs that make special efforts to help blacks and other minorities to get ahead because of past discrimination.”

What’s more, the survey found “support for affirmative action programs diminishes considerably when younger millennials are asked specifically about affirmative action for college admission.”

The same month that survey was released, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case Fisher v. the University of Texas, which deals with race-conscious college admissions in America’s public universities.

Most of academia has expressed support for the University of Texas, which aims to continue its practice of using race as a preferential factor in admissions decisions. Administrators and faculty at elite schools have also chimed in, defending the notion of “diversity” in the classroom. All members of the Ivy League, the nation’s top liberal arts colleges, and other big-name schools, have filed amicus briefs on University of Texas’ behalf.

Yet the higher education community’s overwhelming support for racial preferences is not mirrored by the general public.

This month, the American Enterprise Institute released a political report that compiled public opinion on a variety of issues, including affirmative action. In its publication, the organization cited data from a 2010 survey by the National Opinion Research Center which found that a vast majority of Americans – 81 percent – oppose affirmative action policies that favor African Americans.

What’s more, only between 44 and 62 percent of blacks polled voiced support for various minority preferences, the poll found. AEI’s public opinion analyst Karlyn Bowman notes, in an interview with The College Fix, that results on such a sensitive topic are always swayed by how pollsters’ frame the question.

Nevertheless, she points to perhaps the most consistent of all affirmative action data available, an annual survey by the UCLA-based Higher Education Research Institute. The poll has found that, since 1995 and every year since, roughly 50 percent of college freshmen believe race-based university admissions preferences should be abolished.

“You could balance a glass of water on that line it’s so flat,” Bowman says.

Fix contributor Danielle Charette is a student at Swarthmore College.

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