“Through our FOIA request, it is now confirmed that the Department of Justice has launched an unprecedented assault on efforts to promote racial diversity in higher education,” said Kristen Clarke, the president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in an emailed statement. “It is truly shameful to see this Justice Department forging ahead with a baseless investigation into race-conscious admissions policies.”
The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of race-conscious affirmative action policies, but outright racial quotas are in fact illegal.
Many assert we still need affirmative action policies to ensure a leveled playing field for students of color. Valeria Strauss argues in The Washington Post:
Though affirmative action in college admissions for African Americans has been losing support in the United States for some time, with supposed “colorblind” methods of admissions gaining ground in the courts, there are powerful arguments for why the practice is still needed.
We cannot reasonably aspire to a meritocracy where all children — poor, middle-class, and affluent — have equal chances of landing in adulthood at every point in the social-class distribution. Higher social-class status will always confer advantages on children; we can only hope to mitigate them. A more realistic aspiration would be to assist children of African Americans who have climbed a few steps up the ladder in climbing a bit further, and in so doing providing leadership to the black community as a whole.
In another piece published in The Washington Post, Jonathan Zimmerman points out that it is actually white men who benefit most from affirmative action, with policies in place that actually make it more difficult for women and Asian Americans to get into elite colleges. The myth that only African American students benefit from affirmative action policies is a fallacious one.
Research from Princeton University sociologists shows that Asian Americans need SAT scores 140 points higher than white students — when all other things are equal — to get into elite colleges.
Ditto for teenage girls, who are outpacing boys in our secondary schools. As several recent studies have confirmed, high school girls study more — and, not surprisingly, get better grades — than high school boys do.
But opponents of affirmative action have recently adjusted their arguments to include the apparent discrimination against Asian American students. The DOJ is reportedly looking into Harvard's admissions practices due to an "administrative complaint filed by a coalition of 64 Asian-American associations." Mark Bauerlein argues in CNN:
When we look at affirmative action policies at selective institutions, though, it isn't whites who will benefit the most if they are restricted. It is, potentially, Asians... Liberals can't absorb the Asian factor. It doesn't fit the whites vs. people of color setup. What is most frustrating to liberals is that advocates can't point to Asians as victimizers of blacks and Hispanics to justify the unequal treatment. The old argument of compensation-for-past-abuses doesn't apply to them, only to whites.
Bauerlein believes if arguments in favor of affirmative action are about issues of diversity and past abuses, Asian Americans should not be left out. To eliminate race-conscious admissions processes wouldn't just make things fairer to white students, but to Asian American students too.