The Worst Form of Affirmative Action: Sullivan on legacy admissions

Hard to argue:

The Worst Form of Affirmative Action

I’ve long believed that affirmative action is unjust, immoral, and racist. Open discrimination with racial bias is always poisonous and when it comes to access to critical institutions of higher learning, it’s a piece of social engineering that has been extended way past its expiration date.

I’m talking, of course, about legacy admissions: the open discrimination that favors the dumb rich over the bright poor and wealthy whites over the brown and black poor, as well as the permanently assaulted Asian-Americans. It’s how Jared Kushner — the dimmest of dim bulbs — walks around with a Harvard degree, thereby devaluing everyone else’s. Because his dad went there first and threw in what was effectively a bribe of an alleged $2.5 million.

ProPublica reports: “Overall, across six years, Harvard accepted 33.6 percent of legacy applicants, versus 5.9 percent of non-legacies, according to Duke economist Peter Arcidiacono, an expert witness for Students for Fair Admissions, the plaintiff challenging Harvard’s affirmative action policies.” This is therefore not a minor injustice; it’s a major scandal. And it has a manifest racial tilt: over a fifth of accepted white candidates are legacy admissions, recipients of a de facto white affirmative action program. In the 2019 class, 11.6 percent of incoming students are white legacy, more than the entire 11 percent who are African-American. It’s a boost that exceeds that given to Hispanics, Native Americans, and the poor. It’s giving the actual super-privileged more privilege, while narrowing the spaces available for truly deserving applicants.

Of course, I take the terribly naïve view that those most gifted intellectually should get into the best colleges, and that test scores are the most objective measure, with some credit for extracurriculars and personality. But if you hold this view, and oppose the use of race as an admissions tool, you simply have to concede that using money and family is just as noxious. I’d go further and make any abolition of racial affirmative action contingent upon the simultaneous abolition of legacy admissions. And I have no doubt that the places freed up could well increase minority representation in a way that requires no engineering, condescension, or left-racism.

If race-based affirmative action is to be abandoned — and it sure might with the new shape of the Supreme Court — it seems to me that conservatives, liberals, and even the left should unite, for once, against actual, tangible privilege and injustice. The Ivy League can take the financial hit, it seems to me. And a small effort to weaken our increasingly deep caste system in America in favor of meritocracy would be a huge benefit for us all. Plus: no more Kushners. What’s not to like?

via Did Trump Just Help Stop Brexit?

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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