President Trump’s Justice Department has rolled back the Obama administration’s policy of promoting voluntary race-based affirmative action for college admissions. This is a necessary step in today’s admissions environment.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the removal of the Obama administration’s guideline on Tuesday, a 2011 document entitled “Guidance on the Voluntary Use of Race to Achieve Diversity in Postsecondary Education.”
Obama’s guideline stated “postsecondary institutions can voluntarily consider race to further the compelling interest of achieving diversity.”
Why did the Obama administration encourage race as a factor in college admissions? According to the document, “Interacting with students who have different perspectives and life experiences can raise the level of academic and social discourse both inside and outside the classroom.”
When we think of diversity today, we think only of skin color. This is a flawed perception of what “diversity” should be. After all, as Obama’s document itself stated, the purpose of a diverse pool of students is to expose students to different perspectives. In order to ensure students have “diverse backgrounds,” political affiliation and socioeconomic status are more important factors than race — and boy is there a lack of diverse political perspectives in America’s universities.
With an overwhelming majority of professors being liberal — a 2016 student put the ratio of liberal to conservative faculty members at 12:1 — colleges are failing to do exactly what the Obama guideline said was necessary.
Furthermore, rather than race, socioeconomic status could be used as a guideline to ensure “diverse backgrounds” and level the playing field for students who grew up with fewer resources to perform at the same levels as the wealthy. To suggest that all white Americans automatically have more resources than all African-Americans is racist. Why make broad generalizations about race instead of assessing a students’ resources?
Race-based affirmative action may have been necessary when the Lyndon Johnson Administration signed an executive order requiring contractors to take steps to hire more minorities in 1965 — following the end of Jim Crow.
But today’s America should not give admissions points to students merely because of the color of their skin, especially when Harvard University is currently being sued for allegedly limiting its number of Asian-American admissions.
It isn’t surprising: for one group of students to gain points, another group must lose points. Why don’t we instead admit students based on merit rather than skin color? That’s exactly what the Trump administration is asking for.