Who Really Benefits from Racial Affirmative Action?
There are beneficiaries from admitting black students with little chance of performing at the level of other students. They are college presidents, administrators and campus liberals. Whether blacks graduate or have been steered into useless “Mickey Mouse” courses is irrelevant. Government race overseers are only counting colors. College administrators win kudos for achieving and celebrating “diversity,” not to mention the fact that they can keep government higher-education handouts.Of course, struggling black students can easily pick up a sense of victimhood, blaming their situation on “racist” administrations, professors or fellow students. And it doesn’t help if white students let on, perhaps in subtle ways, that they know the black students are less well academically qualified. Thus we have “microaggressions.” In spite of good intentions, it’s not easy to consistently pretend that something you know to be true isn’t.
Another group of beneficiaries is composed of black staff and faculty who are hired and create campus fiefdoms with big budgets based on the presence of black students. The number of black students enrolled is the key, not the number who graduate or wind up in useless “Mickey Mouse” courses or in the bottom of their classes. In fact, there is an element of perversity. The greater the number of blacks who are on academic probation or do not graduate the more justified are calls for greater budgets for academic support and student retention programs.
Of course, there are plenty of professors and administrators who will egg on and pander to racial grievances. Students articulating such grievances may get rewards — a position on a diversity committee, for example, or the favorable attention of the media. And, for course, when white students react negatively to the whining (or being bullied about “white privilege”) this simply adds to the stock of grievances.
Things like this may explain the findings of a recent Gallup study: black graduates of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) fare better than black graduates of other institutions.
This applies, first, to various indices of “thriving.”
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It also applies to college experiences.
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InterpretationThis Gallup study involved a large number of respondents, but it is short of a well-controlled social science study. Most importantly, there is probably a lot of self-selection involved, and black students who choose to go to such institutions may be different from students who choose to go to predominately white institutions.
But it may be that the climate at predominately black institutions is simply better than the racially obsessed hyper politically correct climate at many predominately white colleges.
Students at historically black colleges are unlikely to be struggling academically because affirmative action has put them in an excessively demanding environment. And it’s harder to articulate racial grievances against administrators who are black, or faculty who are black (or are whites who have chosen to teach at a predominately black college). Where the overwhelming majority of students are black, the color of your skin cannot make you the affirmative action pet of administrators, or the token black on this or that committee. If somebody disses you, it’s likely to be viewed as personal, and not a racial slight.
ConclusionDoes this mean that black students should prefer historically black colleges? No — although that might be a good choice for some students. But it does suggest that they should be wary of accepting admission to any institution where they will be far below the average white student in terms of SAT or ACT scores. Williams suggests “[d]o not enroll your children in a college where their SAT score [presumably, verbal plus quantitative] is 200 or more points below the average of that college.”
It also means your are better off in a school that is not hyper politically correct. A school that is not overrun with diversity bureaucrats, and where white students are not berated about “white privilege.” A religious institution (one that is really religious, not merely nominally religious, like Marquette) is a likely choice.
But the first thing to remember is this: the people who talk loudest about having your best interests at heart, probably don’t.