Should colleges be race-blind in admissions?

The only thing that is more American than apple pie is a lawsuit. Recently, an advocacy group known as Students for Fair Admissions filed two lawsuits accusing colleges of racial bias in their admission process—especially against Asian Americans. But is this lawsuit the best way to correct the college admission process?

Though the lawsuit, which has gained notoriety, cites Harvard University of bias against Asian Americans, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is also being sued for inadequate consideration of race-neutral admissions. The group alleges that neither school is adhering to the “strict scrutiny” requirements the U.S. Supreme Court laid down in response to the 2013 case Fisher v. the University of Texas at Austin.

One aspect of SFA’s argument references a study which found Asian Americans needed an SAT score 140 points higher than those of white students to gain college admission.

Supporters of the suit claim that if a race-neutral admissions policy were used, a much greater number of Asian American applicants would be accepted to the elite schools to which they applied. However, the question must be asked: Would this actually be beneficial for a school environment?

Every student is different, but it cannot be denied that cultural background does add to each individual. If a school were completely homogeneous, it would decrease from that school’s diversity—and this holds true for every race.

Currently, Asian Americans comprise 20 percent of Harvard’s 2,048-person class of 2018, the largest of any other ethnic group besides whites. As Asian Americans only comprise approximately five percent of the population of the U.S., they are definitely over-represented, especially when compared to the relatively accurate representation of African-Americans (13 percent in the U.S. and 12 percent of the class) and Latinos (17 percent in the U.S. and 13 percent of the class.)

With a race-neutral policy, schools would be likely to have a greater number of Asian Americans, but other ethnicities would certainly suffer. What might be good for one is not necessarily good for all.

It is wrong to determine acceptance to college on ethnicity alone, but one of the best things that colleges have to offer is their ability to expose students from places like Carmel, where there is little ethnic diversity, to new cultures and experiences of which they would have otherwise remained unaware.

If SFA believes in instituting race-neutral means of admission, then affirmative action, the policy of bringing opportunity to historically underrepresented groups, would be essentially moot, bringing higher test scores but far less diversity to schools. So, perhaps it is not race-neutral admissions for which one should be advocating, but an increase in the percentage of diverse ethnicities, among the students’ other qualifications.

It’s true that the system is unbalanced, but SFA is walking a fine line between attempting to fix the system and playing on the heartstrings of rejected students when the first thing on their homepage states, “Were you denied admission to college? It may be because you’re the wrong race.”
-Delaney King