Monday, October 03, 2022
10/03/2022

Harvard Needs Merit-Based Admissions

The Supreme Court, in its next term, will render a decision in Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College, which will determine the legality of Harvard’s race-based affirmative-action program. The plaintiffs claim that, by creating a floor for certain racial and ethnic groups in its admissions, Harvard created a ceiling for Asian-Americans. The result is that Asian-Americans who are academically qualified become victims of discrimination.

If the court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, as many experts believe it will, Harvard and many universities around the country will have to continue their quests for increased racial diversity without violating the specific terms of the decision.

The time has come, however, for universities to abandon their efforts to achieve superficial, artificial diversity based on race. The coming decision would provide American schools with an opportunity to develop admission criteria based on academic achievement and potential—while abolishing such non-merit-based criteria as legacy status, athletics, geography and other nonacademic preferences. There would be resistance to getting rid of these advantages, but it could be done.

I believe the result of a merit-based policy would be more meaningful diversity. The result of such a policy would likely give way to more political, ideological, geographic, religious and other types of diversity that are at least as relevant to the educational mission of the university as race and ethnicity. I certainly am not asking for a return to “the good old days” of WASP dominance—those days were anything but good—but I am asking for an approach rarely attempted by American universities: pure meritocracy.
La Bibliothèque Harry Elkins Widener by Pascal Bernardon is licensed under unsplash.com
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