On June 23, the Supreme Court winked and nodded at soft racism. The court refused to strike down the University of Michigan's law school admissions policy, which gives an unfair advantage to minority students. According to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, author of the court's majority opinion, bringing racial diversity to the classroom "promotes 'cross-racial understanding,' helps to break down racial stereotypes, and 'enables (students) to better understand persons of different races.'" This is preposterous. This is revolting. I couldn't be happier.
Because I am already in college. And once you're in, diversity programs are wonderful. Huge numbers of unqualified students walk into lecture each day. They struggle with the material. They ask ignorant questions. They stagger through assigned readings and then realize they've assimilated nothing. It makes the rest of us look like geniuses. For those who are qualified, diversity programs are a bonanza. Didn't study for a big test? No big deal -- those unqualified diversity admittees will certainly help the curve.
The link between affirmative action and grade inflation is one of the most closely guarded secrets in academia. Intellectuals ripped Professor Harvey C. Mansfield of Harvard University when he exposed the link. Dubbed Harvey "C Minus" Mansfield by his students because of his tough grading, Mansfield revealed that over half of the grades given at Harvard were A's or A minuses.
Mansfield suggested that grade inflation was partly due to affirmative action. "Grade inflation got started in the late '60s and early '70s when professors raised the grades of students protesting the war in Vietnam. At that time, too, white professors, imbibing the spirit of the new policies of affirmative action, stopped giving low grades to black students and, to justify or conceal this, also stopped giving low grades to white students," Mansfield wrote in the Harvard Crimson. "I would say that the reluctance to give black students low grades has been a factor in preventing grades from going down," Mansfield reiterated in an interview with the Dartmouth Review.
But what about the educational value of diversity? Doesn't a more racially diverse environment promote "cross-racial understanding" and enable students "to better understand persons of different races"?
No. I sometimes wonder if those who believe affirmative action helps race relations have ever stepped onto a university campus. The fact of the matter is this: Racial groups hang together. Each race has its own student organization and, in some cases, two or three. Blacks on most campuses have the African Student Union, the African-American Student Association, or the Black Student Association. Hispanics have MEChA, an organization founded with the goal of "liberating" the Southwest region of the United States from "the foreign Europeans." Muslims on many campuses have the Muslim Student Association, an organization that has been investigated for its ties to terrorism.
Groups even have their own "studies" department at most major universities. Afro-American Studies. Jewish Studies. Chicano Studies. Gay and Lesbian Studies. Native American Studies. Green-Eyed People with One Ear and Mesopotamian Ancestry Studies.
Cliquishness isn't necessarily a bad thing. Everyone has the right to freedom of association. But the fact that racial divides on campus are so great indicates that the overriding value the Supreme Court places on diversity is misguided at the least.
So the question becomes: Whom does affirmative action hurt? If qualified students get higher grades, great! If underqualified students get to attend a high-level college, terrific! It's a win-win situation!
Not exactly. Diversity admittees are simply not qualified to attend high-level universities. Studies show that students admitted through affirmative action or diversity programs are substantially more likely to drop out. Their grades are substantially lower than those of their more qualified counterparts.
The heavy emphasis on race also places a stigma on qualified minority students. When a white student asks a silly question during class, everyone just takes it for what it is: a dumb question. When a black student makes an inane comment, the student is automatically labeled by classmates as an underachiever allowed by the good graces of society to play with the smart kids.
What about those students unable to get into schools because their slots are taken by the less qualified minorities? Why do proponents of diversity fail to realize that those who get hurt by the system might develop animosity toward those who benefit?
As for me, I'm sitting pretty. I get to ride the bubble of grade inflation. I'm excluded from most racial cliques. I just come to school, take the tests, get the grades and go home. This must be what the Supreme Court means by "educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body."