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Racial Preferences in College Admissions: Another Example of Liberal Pandering

Written on Friday, January 18, 2013 by

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If I ever need help, the last person I will ask to assist me is a liberal. Liberals have a penchant for hurting not just those they claim to help, but others as well. There are many examples that could be used to prove this assertion. I have chosen racial preferences in college admissions as my evidentiary case for this column. Racial preferences are part of the broader policy of Affirmative Action, one of the worst rhetorical misnomers ever invented by leftists who have turned linguistic deceptiveness into an art form. Affirmative Action is nothing more than racial prejudice against non-minorities codified in federal law. One of the worst applications of Affirmative Action can be found in the application of racial preferences in college admissions.

As a former college professor and vice-president, I have seen the damage that racial preferences in college admissions can do to the minorities they claim to help—primarily black students—as well as to the students who are discriminated against by the preferences. Writing for The Washington Times, conservative economist and college professor Thomas Sowell had this to say about racial preferences in college admissions: “Black students with all the qualifications for success can be turned into failures by being admitted to institutions geared to students with even higher qualifications than theirs. I saw this happen at Cornell, years ago, when black students with test scores substantially above the national average were nevertheless in deep academic trouble, at an institution where the other students were in the top one percent. Those same black students would have made the dean’s list in most other colleges. But they were mismatched at Cornell, and many failed bitterly.”

In other words, top-ranked universities such as Cornell, Harvard, Yale, and others are willing to throw minority students into the deep end of the academic pool and let them drown just so they can say they allow minorities in the pool. Is passing over better qualified but non-minority students in favor of minorities who are likely to fail really affirmative action? It is certainly an action but it is hardly affirmative.

Promising high school athletes face a similar dilemma every year: Which scholarship to accept—the one to the nationally-ranked college where they will spend four years warming the bench and serving as a tackling dummy or to a lesser-ranked college where they might get a chance to play regularly, improve their skills, and maybe even advance to the next level? The smart high school athletes choose the latter route, and many are able to turn this wise choice into a professional career in their sport.

The process by which colleges and universities extend athletic scholarships is based on merit, not Affirmative Action—as it should be. Why, then, are racial preferences used when making admission decisions? Why not base admission decisions on merit rather than race? Liberals are fond of talking about “fairness.” What could be more fair than merit-based admission standards? These standards work for college athletics—why not use them for all admission decisions? The reason is simple: Minorities—particularly blacks—dominate when it comes to awarding athletic scholarships, particularly in the two money sports: football and basketball. But white and Asian students dominate when it comes to meeting admission standards, and in today’s upside down America it is acceptable to discriminate against whites and, in the case of college admissions, Asians.

The fact that racial preferences in college admissions harm white and Asian students does not interest liberals who support Affirmative Action, but the fact that racial preferences also harm black students—the supposed beneficiaries of Affirmative Action—should interest them. When black students are admitted to top-rated colleges and universities on the basis of racial preferences rather than merit, not only are better qualified non-minorities discriminated against, but the number of minority graduates declines as mismatched minority students flunk out. According to Thomas Sowell, “…the data strongly suggest that there are fewer black lawyers when there are racial preferences in admissions to law school. Conversely, when racial preferences were banned in the University of California system, the number of black students who graduated actually increased substantially, as did their grade point averages.”

In other words, when black students must do what others students are required to do—pursue college admissions on the basis of merit—they wind up in institutions that are a better match for their current level of academic development and ability. Not every student—white, black, Asian, or Hispanic—can go to Harvard, Yale, or Cornell (in reality this is a good thing). But they can do well by attending a college or universities outside the Ivy League where they can receive an outstanding education and actually graduate. This raises an interesting question: When will minorities in America stop allowing themselves to be pandered to by liberals who care little or nothing about their long-term well-being?
The fact that liberals know that racial preferences harm black students but still support preferences only adds to the mounting evidence that they are interested in pandering for the sake of appearances rather than actually helping minorities.

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