The Real Beneficiaries of Racial Preferences

Robert Weissberg, American Thinker, October 10, 2013

Despite their public unpopularity and court ordered restrictions, racial preferences in higher education still manage to hang on and if anything, the Obama administration has pushed them even harder. To wit, on Friday September 27th, both the Department of Justice and Department of Education issued a “Dear Colleague” letter that strongly affirmed that using skin color in college admissions was still permissible. According to the letter,

The Court preserved the well-established legal principle that colleges and universities have a compelling interest in achieving the educational benefits that flow from a racially and ethnically diverse student body and can lawfully pursue that interest in their admissions programs. The educational benefits of diversity, long recognized by the Court and affirmed in research and practice, include cross-racial understanding and dialogue, the reduction of racial isolation, and the breaking down of racial stereotypes.

This is a peculiar interpretation of the recent Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin that involved a white student (Abigail Fisher) denied admission to the U of T who claimed that academically less qualified blacks were admitted due to their race. In a 7 to 1 vote the Court remandered the case back to a lower appellate court with instructions that the University of Texas’s race-based admissions policy pass the high hurdle of strict scrutiny. That is, there must be a compelling government interest in using race and the policy must be narrowly tailored to accomplish this aim. At best, race-based affirmative action will survive but, guaranteed, it will now be much constrained.

The letter also misrepresents so-called “research findings”–they don’t exist. It is as if the Obama administration is stuck in the 70s and 80s when colleges unashamedly applied racial quotas in admissions.

The letter might be construed as yet one more political gesture to placate his African American constituents by improving education opportunities for young blacks. Wrong–admitting academically troubled black students means thousands of politically manufactured middle class jobs for adult African Americans. That these admittees would be better off elsewhere matters not. This is all about jobs, not quality education.

Begin by understanding that no African American youngster will be denied a college education if racial preferences vanished tomorrow. American higher education offers a place for everyone including those who barely escaped high school. The question really is at what school, and racial preferences merely sharply up the odds of a black student reaching beyond what his or her academic record justifies.

Consider a smart but academically lazy black student from Chicago. Local choices range from top tier Northwestern to Chicago State University to Harold Washington Community College among others. Ending of racial preferences might only mean, say, attending the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle versus Northwestern (and he could still transfer to Northwestern if he excelled at Chicago Circle). None of this sorting out constitutes a cosmic injustice.

But, what if our indifferent student “got lucky” thanks to racial preferences and was accepted at Northwestern? Now, unbeknown to the preference beneficiary, the over-his-head youngsters will be a career bonanza for others. These jobs, moreover, will only add to the tuition bills and thereby boost student debt.

Let me outline how all this works. Begin with the school’s admission office. Now permitted to recruit according to race, newly hired staff will visit largely minority high schools to attract enrollees while other staff members showpotential recruits around campus. Still other admission personnel will scrutinize minority applications to uncover below-the-surface traits that might “objectively” justify admission, a “holistic admission” review policy to circumvent legal bans on naked racial quotas.

A poorly prepared minority freshman may also be required to enroll in remedial classes to compensate for shoddy high school preparation. Then there will be full credit racially-themed courses, e.g., Black Studies, to assist in high priority retention. Entire departments may have to be established for this purpose–professors, administrative assistants, student advisors and secretarial staff. A special librarian may be added to curate relevant books and journals.

But the real bureaucratic expansion will occur in non-academic activities. Think themed residence hall, complete with live-in advisors, activity coordinators and other staff to guarantee a safe, supportive college experience. Experts will also be added to infuse multicultural elements into course offerings across academic departments, a true make-work extravaganza despite intellectually shoddiness. And rest assured, each top administrator will now have advisors for “minority affairs” to, among other tasks, help departments develop job advertisements that display a willingness to welcome minority candidates.

If racially tinged campus incidents occur, even hoaxes or honest misunderstanding, figure more employees expert on cooling animosities with mandatory sensitivity workshops, race-sensitive policy guidelines (especially for campus security) and other measures to prevent imagined campus disorder. Further add consultants to help eliminate invisible but still debilitating racism.

What is especially notable about this job explosion is its cost, invisibility to outsiders, and its survival even as budgets for higher education shrink. Heather MacDonald tells of how the University of California faced a $250 million shortfall in 2012 (plus a billion in debt) but its San Diego campus still managed to hire a Vice-Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at a starting salary of $250,000 plus $60,000 for relocation costs and a $13,500 temporary housing allowance (and who knows the cost of his or her staff). Elsewhere, the San Francisco campus appointed a vice chancellor of diversity and outreach–with a starting salary of $270,000–to create a “diverse and inclusive environment.” Keep in mind that these outlays do not include the expenses of hiring academic head hunters who, for a fee, will find the school’s next Dean of Outreach and Inclusion. And the University of California is hardly unique.

In a world of growing job insecurity, these positions rival the job security of tenured professors. No college president will insist that such outreach efforts squander precious funds better allocated to scientific research. And imposing on merit-based undergraduate admissions surely risks Department of Justice investigation and howls of outrage from student and faculty activists. Remember, none of this racial pandering costs any administrator personally; the opposite is true–a stellar record on recruiting minority undergraduates, retaining and graduating them, even if in dubious grievance soaked majors, is the ticket to career advancement.

What energizes Obama’s passionate defense of racial preferences is that nearly all those whose livelihood depends on it have scant options outside the academy. What would they do if all the black students on campus attended academically appropriate schools and therefore needed scant special assistance? Gone would be all those tutors, professors, Deans of Diversity and all the rest who owed their livelihoods to graduating students in over their heads academically.

To repeat, defending racial preferences is really about sustaining a politically manufactured middle class existence for thousand of African Americans. The Obama administration surely recognizes this awkward reality and thus hardly surprising that must go to extreme lengths, even lying, to help those whose ample livelihood rests on racial preferences.

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  • JackKrak

    I was 17 years old when I noticed that the university I was applying to asked me to indicate what race I was so that they could ensure that I was not discriminated against.

    It didn’t make sense to me then and it still doesn’t.

    • watling

      As long as they don’t know what you look like and you don’t tell them, they won’t know your race, in which case discrimination cannot occur. (Although if you’re called Shawshanna or Duwayne they’ll have a good idea).

      I don’t know about the US but here in the UK some universities – particularly Oxford/Cambridge – interview applicants so they’ll know the race of all potential students. Recently I believe Oxford was accused of racism for not having enough black students. Nobody dared risk their career to state the unthinkable; namely that blacks simply aren’t clever enough for elite universities.

      The university I went to did not interview applicants as a matter of course. I think there were about 10 blacks out of a student population of some 4000 and most of those were foreigners paying huge sums to get a decent education away from whichever African disfunctional dump they’d come from.

  • I’m not much buying the notion that blacks are “over their heads” anymore when being admitted to colleges above their pay grade, so to speak. Just about every school will find a way to get an unqualified black AA beneficiary on through with a degree in something.

    If the Harvard basketball team cheats to help its black scholarship athletes, why wouldn’t any other school?

    • Sick of it

      The schools I attended only did so if they were athletes there on a scholarship. In other words, athletes they wanted.

  • Spartacus

    ” Heather MacDonald tells
    of how the University of California faced a $250 million shortfall in
    2012 (plus a billion in debt) but its San Diego campus still managed to
    hire a Vice-Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at a starting
    salary of $250,000 plus $60,000 for relocation costs and a $13,500
    temporary housing allowance (and who knows the cost of his or her
    staff). Elsewhere, the San Francisco campus appointed a vice chancellor
    of diversity and outreach–with a starting salary of $270,000–to create a
    “diverse and inclusive environment.” Keep in mind that these outlays do
    not include the expenses of hiring academic head hunters who, for a
    fee, will find the school’s next Dean of Outreach and Inclusion. And the
    University of California is hardly unique.”

    ———————————————————————————————————————

    Any bets on the ethnicity of these “Vice-Chancellors” ?

    • Hunter Morrow

      Jew is not an ethnicity. It is a race that hates the White race but wants to parasitically benefit from close association with it, the same as all the others ones do.

      • Spartacus

        I know. Just trying to be subtle…

        • Hunter Morrow

          I don’t even think that one lasted 2 hours. The moderators have really been on the matzah ball lately.

  • “… the San Francisco campus appointed a vice chancellor of diversity and outreach–with a starting salary of $270,00 …”

    ——————–

    It’s over, folks. It really is.

    • Luca

      Now you know why it cost so much for tuition, they have all these phony do-nothing minority appointees for window dressing and to make them feel warm and fuzzy.

      • Oh well. At least students can get degrees in white black studies.

        • A Freespeechzone

          Then they have the likes of Jackson & Sharpton extorting companies to hire them….even when unqualified…

          • mobilebay

            I’d like to know how Sharpton snagged a TV gig. Can’t even understand him when he talks. It must have taken a lot of pressure on the powers-that-be at MSNBC to give him his own show.

        • Katherine McChesney

          Black studies.

          All mythology. For students who are less intelligent and have no ambition.

          • Hi Katherine, it’s been a while. It’s not all mythology — I distinctly recall eating peanut butter as a kid. Also, and this is the truth, the thumb-operated railroad locomotive oilcan actually was invented by a black engineer shortly after the civil war. Beyond that yes, mythology for the affirmative action students.

    • A Freespeechzone

      This is ONLY the beginning…’diversity’ is merely a code word for punishment, retribution and payback against Whites for just being White; it’s NEVER about equality.

      It’s the liberal Whites that have sold us out….and still are.

      Fact is…the payback will eventually include them as well.

  • bigone4u

    In my experience, diversity administrators are always minority and always have feces for brains. I’ll add that the author forgot the cost of the extra campus cops, patrol cars, and jail cells that will be needed to rein in the hijinx of the “teens” diversity brings to campus.

  • Luca

    Diversity is a social construct.

  • E_Pluribus_Pluribus

    Weissberg on a not-so-hidden driver of campus diversity:

    “…nearly all those whose livelihood depends on it [the admission of poorly-qualified black students] have scant options outside the academy. What would they do if all the black students on campus attended academically appropriate schools and therefore needed scant special assistance? Gone would be all those tutors, professors, Deans of Diversity and all the rest who owed their livelihoods to graduating students in over their heads academically. To repeat, defending racial preferences is really about sustaining a politically manufactured middle class existence for thousand(s) of African Americans.”

    • Hunter Morrow

      WEISSBERG. Do you think there is another reason why these people would seek to destroy the education of Whites?

  • De’Ontavious Jizzaiah Jones

    This is a good article for pointing out all the manufactured jobs like Diversity Deans. The NY Times not too long ago did a several page advertising spread championing diversity, which unwittingly called this matter to readers attention by showing page after page of blacks in private companies with titles like Diversity Recruiter. I became curious and looked up the websites of the universities I attended. Sure enough, multiple Diversity Deans all through the university’s different colleges. I also looked up the university where my sister in law teaches, same thing. As the article points out, this bloats school’s payroll costs along with all the remedial classes, tutors etc. I stopped giving $$ to my law school about 3 years ago when I found out they had instituted an affirmative diversity program. The fairly new law dean tried to argue against evidence that it was not AA. Now, the law school has a black law students chapter and separate black moot court who compete against other all black moot court teams nationwide. I never would have attended had that been case in 1996. I decided against U of MD for blatant ill effects of diversity on their Baltimorcampus.

  • me

    “Then there will be full credit racially-themed courses, e.g., Black Studies, to assist in high priority retention.” –There’s where you learn that Bantus invented the traffic light, among other things. You also learn that the Negro built all ancient civilizations, including Greece.
    They fill these Negro’s heads with false history, give them a faux ‘diploma’ in some obscure and useless field of study, pump up their egos with how ‘special’ they are….then wonder why some of these Negroes become bitter and hate-filled when they get out into the ‘real’ world, outside of ‘academia’. This is why we need segregation. ‘Diversity’ hurts everyone.

    • The negro who came up with the traffic light got the idea because he had been a railyard worker, and the railroads were already using signal lights.

      • me

        Lester Farnsworth Wire (September 3, 1887–April 14, 1958) is credited with the invention of the electric traffic light in 1912 in Salt Lake City. Wire worked as a detective for the Salt Lake City police force

      • me

        Here ya go…

  • When Harold Washington Community College (one of the City Colleges of Chicago) classes end, it looks like a yoof day care facility just let out on Lake Street.

  • Sick of it

    It doesn’t pay since you’re not likely to get a professional job with a degree and no experience in the field.

  • watling

    That’s curious because in his book, White Identity, Mr Taylor explains at great length, with many examples, how diversity is not a strength.

  • SFLBIB

    “A poorly prepared minority freshman may also be required to enroll in remedial classes to compensate for shoddy high school preparation.”

    A top university has no business offering remedial classes. That is what community colleges are for.

    Have any institutions of higher ed published their graduation rates of affirmative action admittees?

  • SFLBIB

    “college is a racket.”

    They talk about “Big Oil” but no one talks about “Big Ed.”

  • SFLBIB

    “…a Vice-Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at a starting salary of $250,000 plus $60,000 for relocation costs and a $13,500 temporary housing allowance (and who knows the cost of his or her staff).”

    The relocation and temporary housing costs are one-time. BUT, there are continuing costs other than salary that are associated with keeping an employee on the payroll, including [but not limited to] facilities, supervision, and paid absence. These can easily equal the salary. As a supervisor, I used a factor of 2.0 [others used 2.2, etc.], i.e., it cost my organization twice an employee’s salary to keep him on the payroll. So, our precious $250,000 “Vice-Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion” easily runs a cool half-million bucks. The same rule applies to his staff.

  • SFLBIB

    If diversity is so important that the supreme court recognizes it as such, why isn’t there diversity on the court? The following is the current make-up and the school they received their law degrees from:

    John Glover Roberts, Jr. – Harvard

    Antonin Gregory Scalia – Harvard

    Anthony McLeod Kennedy – Harvard

    Clarence Thomas – Yale

    Ruth Joan Bader Ginsburg – Harvard

    Stephen Gerald Breyer – Harvard

    Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr. – Yale

    Sonia Maria Sotomayor – Yale

    Elena Kagan – Harvard

    If there is diversity there, I don’t see it. We are being ruled indirectly by the faculties of Harvard and, to a lesser extent, Yale.

    • Mike Conrad

      You neglect to observe that a grand total of zero of them are Protestant Christian–the people who actually created this nation. Three Jewish, six Catholic. How’s that for ‘representative’?

      • SFLBIB

        True, but I was addressing ‘diversity’ not ‘representation’. If there was a Protestant on the court, I’d bet you my dollars to your doughnuts he would be from Harvard.

      • Katherine McChesney

        Great observation. It’s the Counter-Reformation. Georgetown must be elated.

  • WR_the_realist

    Now you see why college tuition is so high. To all you parents saving for your child’s college education, are you sure you want to spend your money on this?

  • Lee_CPA

    It’s just not academia. My company has a vice president for “Diversity and Inclusion”.
    Supplier “diversity” is also big business. Most companies give preferences in procurement to MBE (minority business enterprises) and WBEs (women business enterprises). Most of these MBE and WBE are shell companies set up expressly to get awarded contracts over more traditional companies.

  • SFLBIB

    “The govt, and especially the Democratic Party, reward people based on race, sex, homosexuality as titles of nobility and privilege.”

    I never looked at it quite that way, but I think you have a very good observation.

  • Katherine McChesney

    Wonderful comments. Especially from someone called “Himmler’s Ghost”.

  • Fighting_Northern_Spirit

    I’ve often heard this phrase, the Democrat Plantation from lamestream conservatives who argue that NAMs are kept in serfdom and/or poverty by liberals. This is utterly false, and I avoid describing it as such. While it is true that liberals have a patronizing attitude towards their pets, left to their own devices NAMs would be living in 9th World squalor without liberal patronage. Liberals are not holding the brothas down because genetically, the brothas have no capacity to get up. Indeed, the true believers in the Democrat party have elevated them to the point where they are quite out of control, and they threaten the goose that lays the golden eggs.