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Affirmative Reaction

Jun 10, 2013 by

admissions-120x150Bill Keller – In the coming days the Supreme Court is expected to rule on a case that could further restrict the use of race as a factor in college admissions. A white student denied a place at the University of Texas at Austin claims that although Texas uses race sparingly in its college admissions, the state is still cheating white students and violating the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The betting among court watchers is that the verdict will be another setback for racial affirmative action. As a supporter of diversity, I wonder: could that be a blessing in disguise?

I am not a disinterested bystander on the subject. As an editor, I have long believed that hiring and promoting talented minorities was not just a moral obligation but a professional imperative: to comprehend a disparate world and present it to a disparate audience, it helps to have a reporting and editing staff with a diversity of experience and perspective. As a trustee of a liberal arts college, I’ve supported admission of black and Latino students not just as a remedy for historic injustice but because something fundamental is missing from a campus where everybody is pretty much alike. Diversity tends to make institutions more creative, more adaptable, more productive.


But over the years, following the work of scholars like Richard Kahlenberg at the Century Foundation, Anthony Carnevale of Georgetown and Marta Tienda of Princeton, I’ve come to think there may be a better way to accomplish diversity: namely, by shifting attention from race to class. The idea is controversial, the execution is complicated and it doesn’t come cheap, but it promises a richer kind of variety — and it is less likely to run afoul of the Supreme Court.

via Affirmative Reaction – NYTimes.com.

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