Truly diverse admissions

by Brian Hall

Race, gender, economics and background all contribute to diversity. But diversity comes in many shapes and forms, and true diversity results from a collection of many people with different backgrounds, ideologies and values. Skin color merely adds a bit of variety to the canvas. Recently, universities that employ affirmative action in admission practices have been brought to court because they unfairly, blindly and illegally reward race over other qualities.

Recently, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals articulated the true meaning of diversity in one such case. The court found affirmative action admission policies at the University of Georgia unconstitutional. The ruling upholds the view that diversity includes more than just race, and applicants should be evaluated as individuals to see how they might personally contribute to a university. The opinion read, “While we can assume racial diversity may be one component of a diverse student body, it is not the only component. If the goal in creating a diverse student body is to develop a university community where students are exposed to different cultures, outlooks and experiences, a white applicant in some circumstances may make a greater contribution than a nonwhite applicant.”

Institutions of higher education should only admit applicants based on a student’s merit. Segregation and racism have always existed in our country to the disadvantage of racial minorities, but this does not justify further
discrimination in attempting to right the wrongs of the past. Affirmative action is insulting to those admitted solely because of the color of their skin and not on their intellectual achievements or personal history. Likewise, it is a slap in the face of an individual who may bring a great deal of diversity and knowledge to an institution to be turned away because he or she is not of a preferred race. Affirmative action policies ignore the qualitative strengths of racial minorities while simultaneously fostering resentment and racism in the majority.

Although affirmative action has helped to correct some of the wrongs of the past and to give many minorities a head start, it no longer has a place in American institutions of higher education. The United States needs to move forward and evaluate individuals on their achievements, their personal history and their character. In light of the University of Georgia decision, high school students must work to get the most out of their secondary education and be prepared to express their unique abilities and ideas to admission officers. Universities must also invest more time in scrutinizing the characteristics of applicants instead of relying on quick and easy admission formulas. Hopefully, there will no longer be a box to indicate race on an application but instead a page that asks the student to explain what they can bring to the institution.