affirmative action

  • Richard Rothstein: The Problem with Class-Based Affirmative Action

    While Black Americans are disproportionately poor, argues a scholar of discriminatory policy, the larger numbers of poor whites make it likely that class-based admissions preferences will fail to address racial disparities, including concentrated poverty in Black communities. 

  • It's Time to Pivot to Socioeconomic Preferences in Admissions

    by Richard D. Kahlenberg

    Can admissions preferences to selective colleges for economically less advantaged applicants carry on the justice agenda of Martin Luther King while avoiding the wrath of the Roberts Court and a backlash by middle and working-class whites? 

  • A Secret Joke Clouds Harvard's Affirmative Action Case

    Years ago, a Department of Education official sent a joke in the form of a mock memo from Harvard's admissions office to the school's dean of admissions. The joke referenced Asian stereotypes. Its exact content, as referenced in a sidebar in a federal court trial, had been sealed, and then protected by mutual agreement between the trial judge and the parties. Why?

  • A Prominent Story about How "Diversity" Entered College Admissions is Wrong

    by Charles Petersen

    The plaintiffs in a case seeking to outlaw affirmative action in admission policies are relying on a false narrative that "diversity" entered Harvard's admissions criteria as a way to limit the number of Jews admitted. While the existence of Jewish quotas is documented, the two aren't connected. 

  • Is Harvard Actually Discriminating Against Asian Applicants?

    by Julie J. Park

    The data supporting the charge that Harvard's affirmative action policies amount to discrimination against Asian American students isn't as clear-cut as has been reported, says an education researcher who's investigated the policies. Blaming race-based affirmative action conceals the preferences given to legacies, athletes, and donors' children. 

  • Did Lewis Powell Sign a Slow Death Warrant for Affirmative Action?

    The Times court reporter Emily Bazelon dives into the decision by Justice Powell to decide the 1978 Bakke case through reference to "diversity" instead of racial justice, a rationale that stripped away much of the unjust history of higher education. 

  • The Blindness of Colorblindness: Revisiting "When Affirmative Action was White"

    by Ira Katznelson

    The author of a key work on the way racial discrimination was built into the New Deal and postwar American social policy addresses objections to his book two decades later, and concludes that white supremacy and the influence of southern conservatives over legislation are still powerful explanations. 

  • The Blindness of the Supreme Court's "Colorblindness"

    by Drew Gilpin Faust

    "Affirmative action opened a door I would walk through.... My professors, soon to be my colleagues, could imagine me among them because the very notion of women faculty had been given a legitimacy and a thinkability."

  • Can Universities Protect Diverse Admissions and Excellence?

    by John Thelin

    The vastly improved technology available to college admissions officers means that a handful of selective institutions can serve the interest of both nominal diversity and elite reproduction, while exacerbating the divide in elementary and secondary educational quality in the nation. 

  • The Sad Death of Affirmative Action

    by Jay Caspian Kang

    New Yorker writer Jay Caspian Kang argues that while the benefit of "diversity" is largely uncontested, the brand of diversity that Harvard and other elite institutions want to ensure is circumscribed by the bounds of economic elitism, a far cry from the high moral purposes originally claimed for affirmative action. 

  • History Makes the Best Argument to Keep Affirmative Action

    by Glenn C. Altschuler and David Wippman

    "The Supreme Court’s continued focus on educational benefits as the legal justification for affirmative action has led the policy’s supporters to play down what may well be a more compelling argument: the need to overcome past and continuing discrimination."