No shade to the University of Texas but you’re not the Ivy League. Sorry, not sorry. The Ivy League opens doors. The Ivy League confers privilege and prestige. America has hundreds of colleges and yet the eight Ivy League schools have produced nearly 35% of our forty four presidents. Wow. With that much opportunity to be had, the competition is fierce: Harvard and Columbia accept less than 7% of all applicants. Any student cheated of the opportunity to join that elite club by others less qualified would naturally raise hell and holler to the hills, right? Actually, less qualified students get into Ivy League schools en masse every year and no one complains about the way admissions are done and they certainly don’t take their cause to the Supreme Court. So what the hell is going on at Texas Austin?

The Supreme Court has once agreed to take up the case of Abigail Fisher. Fisher applied to the University of Texas Austin and was denied admission to the law school in 2008. Essentially, the claim is that because of her white skin, she was cheated out of the opportunity and other students who were less qualified (and black, of course) were admitted. The University has set “diversity” as a goal and as such, race is considered as one of many factors in admissions. Now it is up to the court to decide whether the consideration of race in admissions is up to snuff, constitutionally speaking. Now back to the Ivy League.

All eight Ivy League Schools use “Legacy” as a consideration for admission. In other words, if your parents attended the school (and especially if they write checks) you get a nice boost (like George Bush did). At Princeton, for example, the 2015 admissions stats indicate that while only 8.4% of applicants were admitted overall, the acceptance rate of alumni children and stepchildren since the class of 2000 has wavered between 35% and 42%. At Harvard, the legacy acceptance rate is about five times the overall rate and in 2003 the school’s Admissions Dean said that legacy admits had SAT scores “below the school’s overall average.” Keep in mind, these are children who’ve enjoyed a lifetime of privilege and yet they’re behind. These legacy admits most certainly hinder other, more qualified applicants, from dining at the table of elitism and opportunity. Even so, no Supreme Court cases about the inherent unfairness of admissions or which “legacy” kid took a spot rightfully earned by a more qualified student. Not one case. Here’s the kicker: in the year Abigail Fisher was denied admission to the University of Texas, five black or Latino students with lower grades and scores than her were admitted but forty two such students who were white got admitted.

With this in mind, it is quite clear that the fight over Affirmative Action and race conscious admissions has absolutely nothing to do with overall fairness in admissions or denying more qualified candidates opportunity. If that were true, the long standing tradition of legacy admissions (originally contrived to block Jewish applicants from elite schools) would have been challenged in the courts eons ago. If that were true, Abigail Fisher’s lawsuit would certainly have mentioned the forty two white students with lower scores than she. No, that’s not what this is about. It is evident that the issue is an absolute obsession with ensuring black subjugation and an inability to stomach any hint of favor toward black people, even for the simple goal of “diversity” (although shown to enhance the educational experience). No one cares about whether the mechanics of admissions are fair and reward the most qualified applicant. As a country, we simply have a problem with black folks. No one cares about fairness, it’s all bullshit.

Having established this, there is a second question which looms large in this debate. The consideration of race to achieve diversity is vigorously contested in admissions, hiring and various other settings. With so much contention over diversity, few have stopped to consider that Affirmative Action was, originally, conceived of as a way to remedy past injuries to black people. In today’s world- a world where documented bias still exists on every level toward blacks- that very idea is a non-starter. As such, institutions now must fight to defend “diversity.” Are we, as a country, prepared to say that all has been remedied and we have no moral obligation to repair the damage done by individuals, schools and businesses? What about the untold harm inflicted by local, state and federal agencies and policies? Are we saying that? Is diversity now the only frontier left to fight on? Think hard.

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Montoya Smith


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