On Affirmative Action

An op-ed writer for The New York Post makes a ridiculous argument against the merits of Affirmative Action.

In an op-ed for The New York Post, a conservative-leaning daily newspaper, a writer argues that our nation’s elite colleges essentially have a moral imperative to end Affirmative Action so various under-qualified underrepresented minority students who earn admission don’t have to struggle to succeed academically once they matriculate. It’s an argument we, of course, find absolutely preposterous. But, hey, while we don’t agree with this argument one bit, we believe in sharing diverse perspectives on all topics related to college admissions, including the controversial topic of Affirmative Action. So what’s the basis of this writer’s argument?

As Robert VerBruggen writes in The New York Post in a piece entitled “Affirmative-action fix: Let students know how they’ll fare before choosing a college,” “There’s lots of debate over whether these students would be better off at lower-ranked schools in concrete ways — completing difficult majors without switching to easier ones, graduating, passing the bar (in the case of law school). The evidence is stronger for some outcomes than others, but a commonsense way of interpreting the literature is simply that affirmative action has different effects in different situations…What is to be done? The Supreme Court’s decision won’t moot this topic, even if schools comply with the ruling in good faith. Common alternatives to race-based affirmative action, such as preferences based on class or geography, can also create mismatch. I propose a simple solution: Give kids accurate information about how they’ll likely fare in the college programs that accept them, based on how similar students have performed in those same programs.”

In some ways, Mr. VerBruggen is borrowing a tired argument from the esteemed author Malcolm Gladwell (who, coincidentally, is out with a new audiobook called I Hate The Ivy League). Gladwell, of course, has argued in the past that so many students who attend elite universities interested in the competitive field of medicine choose not to become doctors because they can’t succeed when matched up against so many overachieving students. Gladwell essentially argues that these students — had they gone to less selective universities — would have likely made great doctors. But we beg to differ. For starters, we don’t believe succeeding at, say, Harvard University is much more difficult than succeeding at, say, the University of Alabama (yes, we — Ivy Coach — really did just say that…it’s something we’ve been saying for many years in fact). Yes, it’s much more difficult to get into Harvard than to get into ‘Bama — by leaps and bounds. But it’s not so much harder to stay in and succeed. Heck, Harvard is well-known for its grade inflation. And it’s not like Harvard is alone among our nation’s most selective universities. They’re all hard to get into. But many are quite easy to succeed at once admitted.

But, let’s take a look at the bigger picture. Is this writer really trying to argue that elite colleges offering preferential treatment in admissions to underrepresented minorities actually hurts Black, Latino, and Native American students? Please. Mr. VerBruggen, we don’t suppose you’re really Justice Clarence Thomas writing under a pseudonym. Or perhaps his wife, Virginia?

 
 

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3 Comments

  • Ahmed Shiori says:

    But how was this ridiculous coach you saw what happened with MIT, right? They did not require test scores and then they found out the ones without them could not do the work. And historically speaking those with all the test scores were most likely underrepresented minorities. Of course there’s lots of debate on why their scores are lower but aside from that the factors the scores are lower and they resulted in unqualified candidates be admitted to a very challenging program which they are unable to compete in. Of course your point is that they most likely could do fine in a liberal arts major that may be true but do they deserve a spot over other more qualified applicants? I think fair says no. As an Asian I see too many unqualified applicants in my school and I attend an Ivy.

  • Karen says:

    This is all just coded dog whistle language, not all black/brown students admitted to an elite university are admitted to a school solely or even necessairly because of their race. There are black/brown students who take tons of APs, test well, have high grades and test scores, and who earn their place through merit. There are also TONS of non-black/brown students who do not do these things and they still are admitted to elite schools (Dean Lists, etc…). Taken as a whole, the amount of black/brown students at elites schools is not having any impact on any “so called deserving” non-black/brown student applying to these schools. To argue that because of a student’s race/ethnicity they are incapable of doing well academically is hogwash.

  • Edward Lin says:

    Yeah Karen this is all based on statistics there’s always a four leaf clover in the yard but there’s very few of them get with the facts, not BS. The overwhelming majority of non-white students and non Asian students Are scoring far below a water hence the reason colleges eliminated them. But nice try

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