What price are we willing to pay for diversity?

If I were on the U.S. Supreme Court — never an ambition of mine — I would allow race, among many other factors, to be considered for college admission, or a job, or anything else.

Pro and con protestors square off. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

I might also take into account religion, region of the country, age, gender, and ability to play the flute, but the main thing I would look at is ability to succeed — whether in the classroom, or the factory floor. 

Merit is No. 1 — or should be.

While I disagree with the court’s decision, I understand it based on the majority’s reading (or interpretation) of the XIV Amendment to the Constitution, which you can read for yourself.

The funny thing is, colleges and universities are less likely to make the equality or equal protection argument, than the argument that diversity is an end in itself, a goal worth pursuing.

Is that valid?

I believe having different points of view included is generally a good thing. Someone from a different culture might have an entirely different interpretation than you have. Maybe a better interpretation, maybe not. I’m a big believer in hearing different views, even unpleasant ones. That’s under the umbrella of free speech. Given my occupation, that’s a big deal for me.

So I protect even bad ideas, even ugly ideas, as long as they don’t cross the line into inciting violence. That is not permitted.

Things go wrong when diversity is shaped into meaning that an institution should reflect the percentages of people around it, whether the city or the nation.

Blacks account for 13% of the U.S. population.

Does that mean every university and business should have 13% Black employees?

How about the NBA or the NFL? How diverse are they?

I’ll save you the trouble of looking it up: NBA is 71% Black. NFL is 56% Black.

Is that diverse? Is that equitable?

No, but it is fair and based on merit. Aren’t we — or shouldn’t we — be a meritocracy? (I know the far Left doesn’t believe in that.)

Only about one-third of Americans think affirmative action is a good thing, according to Pew Research. About an equal number have no opinion.

I am going to skip the various legal opinions by the various legal experts and focus on one story, in one newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer. It covered some student reaction at Penn to the court’s decision.

Naturally, all the comments were negative, as if there weren’t opposing views that agree with the court. The Inquirer is often one-sided.

Since you probably can’t open the link, I will cut and paste some student and reporters’ phrasing and apply a critical light to them.

First, the enrollment percentages. Keep these in mind: “In fall 2022, 7.9% of Penn’s 9,889 undergraduates identified as African American or Black, while 10.5% were Latino, and 5.2% two or more races. Meanwhile, 27.5% were Asian and 30.8% white.” (Italics added.) That’s only 81.9%, leaving a rather large 18.1% gap.

Yomi Abdi is Black and the opinion editor of the Daily Pennsylvanian, and, according to the Inquirer, “is hyperaware of how the end of affirmative action could make Penn’s already predominantly white campus whiter.”

Go back to the previous paragraph. Would 30.8% be considered “predominantly white” in any other context?

For non-English majors, “predominantly” means “mainly.” So 30.8% is mainly?

The paper then quotes Emily Hyunh, a senior studying health policy, this way: ”Having diverse populations creates safe spaces. As an Asian person attending a predominantly white institution, I know the value of having places where I can speak freely to people who know what it’s like to be Asian here.”

She needs “safe spaces” at Penn, smh, and she too believes she is at a “predominantly white institution.” 

She’s not a math major and seems to disagree with the Asian group that filed the complaint against affirmative action, claiming the policy discriminated against them, and had the numbers to prove it.

I don’t want to be too harsh on Hyunh, because she is living in an environment that encourages this kind of — dare I say it — non critical thinking.

She is joined by Megha Neelapu, another rising Penn senior.

“Affirmative action actually benefits the most marginalized within the Asian community, like Southeast Asians or Pacific Islanders, and that goes underdiscussed.”

Is she saying the very large minority of Asian students at Penn got there because of affirmative action? The Asians filing the law suit believe Asians got in despite affirmative action.

I have no doubt universities are knocking themselves out trying to figure a way around the Supreme Court’s ruling.

44 thoughts on “What price are we willing to pay for diversity?”

  1. Stu, I’m surprised that you think discrimination on the basis of race is OK. Isn’t that what liberals (in the 20th-century sense of the word) were seeking to eliminate?
    And, how do you define it? Sen. Warren of Massachusetts identified as Native American. Can I? Can I identify as black the same way I can identify as female? It seems to open a whole can of worms. (Apologies if I offended any who identify as worms.)

    1. How do I approve of discrimination on the basis of race? I said I accept race as ONE factor, not the sole of major one.
      I stand by that.

  2. If “merit” is the only criteria, or at least the primary criteria, for college admission, then the rule should be applied equally to all applicants. This means that no regard may be paid to legacy. If your parent and grandparent and great grandparent attended a college, that should have absolutely no bearing on your application. Likewise, financial circumstances should have no bearing on your admission. If you live in poverty and do not have the financial means to pay for tuition, books, room and board, or even a bar of soap to rid yourself of the smell of the trash can you live in, if you are smart and can pass the tests, you should receive a free education at the college of your choice. And obviously athletic prowess should have no relevance to your admission to an academic secondary education. Put an end to football/basketball/soccer/anysport scholarships. Sports are not scholarly, and should give no special advantage to a college applicant. The only people who should have any step up for a university admission should be those who have passed standardized tests. Male, female, gay, straight, black, white, 18 years old or 6 year old prodigy – if you pass the SAT’s, you’re in. Otherwise, 12th grade is your ceiling. Or maybe there just might be another way to think about what it means to have “merit”. Maybe it could mean that you deserve to be part of society regardless of a label, and maybe you could have a special ability that would thrive in a college environment.

    1. That’s quite a lot to swallow. Here is the problem: You can’t admit EVERYONE who qualifies because there are more who qualify than there are openings. To “some” subjective tests must be used.
      Are you proposing free education for all who qualify? Who’s going to pay for that?
      As to legacies, yes, those are unfair. I think scholarships should be available for scholastic and athletic (which will disproportionately favor Black students in football, basketball, track and field.

      1. Stu

        Please advertise this.NYU Med School must be listening to you. ” free education for all who qualify”


        NYU offers

        We’re proud to offer all students enrolled in our MD degree program Full-Tuition Scholarships.

        Probably 100.000 applicants for 2000 openings.

  3. Let’s stop all the racial bullshit. The playing field is not the same for everyone but you can overcome whatever obstacles get in your way by hard work. Earn your way by being the best. We are all Americans not white, black , brown or Asian. So sick of all the hateful identity politics. Everything should be based on merit.

  4. As far as I am concerned, I you qualify academically then you should be able to attend any school you want. Going back a few years was it fair the medical schools had quotas for Jews etc?. If you can pass the test then that’s good enough for me. Do you want a doctor that doesn’t know anatomy or a lawyer that is unfamiliar with the laws? I think not.

      1. Perhaps you’d like to explain what makes Joe Biden “a moron.” Because all evidence indicates he is a LOT smarter than, for instance, you.

        1. I can’t help it — you mean the Biden who finished at the head of his class with TWO majors?
          The Biden who calls his crack addict, convicted thief son the smartest man he knows?
          THAT Joe Biden?
          Maybe not a moron, but a liar.

      2. Vince, it seems you are being taken to task for your “moron” comment about President Biden. Why are you afraid to respond to what freeze, and Stu said to you?

        1. The trouble with responding to a moron is he will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

          1. Vince, since you did not respond to the comments directed at you by Stu and freeze it appears you think of them as morons.

  5. Affirmative action (AA) as a policy has been around since around 1963. Ergo, AA is a social experiment that has lasted about 60 years. That is long enough to have the SCOTUS say, “Let’s try something else.” I don’t know how to solve the problem under discussion, but I am convinced it has no solution in law.

    Finally: think of the female military pilot who killed herself trying to land her jet on an aircraft carrier. She was not a good pilot and died as part of a social experiment (AA) that passed people along through a system just to say, “We do not discriminate.”

  6. When I First took the test to become a Philadelphia Police Officer I listed at 57. I also took the test to be a Firefighter I listed at 51. Because of Affirmative action I took my physical with people who wereTwo thousand something on the list. Tell me how that equaled out the number of qualified hirings. Some of the men in the fifties were black, I don’t understand, even in colleges, how if you aren’t the best, you don’t get in. With the way loan’s and scholarships are set up, Friends who had nothing, went to LaSalle,Penn,Drexel, St.Joe’s all on student loans,and paid them back when going into the work force, what happened to that concept. As for the guy who complains about not getting replies here, this is an opinion not Dear Abby,

  7. I’ve got to weigh in on this. Meritocracy without opportunity is meaningless. We’ve all acquired certain biases along the path of our lives. I’ve never thought Affirmative Action, with the noble goal of righting past wrongs, was the best path, and it isn’t. But I also very much believe in the oft maligned motion of DEI, and all that entails. We just have to find a better way. I’m confident we will.

  8. I agree with you that race should be ONE factor in College admissions, not the sole factor. But am confused by your “statistics”. You state that Asians are 27.5% of the student population at Penn. That’s a significantly higher percentage than Asians in our general population. So how did Affirmative Action harm Asians? Was it just Harvard? For those angry Whites that view Affirmative Action as “reverse discrimination”, how do they justify the fact that wealthy families have numerous advantages to prepare their kids for college admissions such as expensive private schools and private tutors. From Michelle Obama…”“So often, we just accept that money power, and privilege are perfectly justifiable forms of affirmative action, while kids growing up like I did are expected to compete when the ground is anything but level.” ……And lets not forget that one of the reasons that the numbers of wealthy Americans are disproportionately White is due to systemic racism (yeah, I said it) and governmental policies that prohibited Blacks from achieving generational wealth. Lastly, for all those who insist that “Merit” should be the only factor in admissions, or career success, please let me remind you that ANYONE, regardless of “Merit” can be President of the United States, (or any number of elected offices) provided they get the required votes, because there are NO standards, other that one be a natural born U.S. Citizen.

    1. The stats are not mine. They are Penn’s, reported by the Inquirer. The law suit was specific to Harvard and UNC. I don’t think I am required to answer every question you can think of.

      1. Wow. I’d ask “Why” the snooty, dismissive response, Stu, but your sarcasm speaks for itself. I was engaging in legitimate conversation. Unlike many of the right wingers who don’t even address the content of your columns but simple twist every thing into a Democrat or Biden bashing opportunity.

        1. I deal with many people on many platforms and have limited time. I also know you are an ideologue whose ideas can’t be changed.
          Sorry you are so touchy.
          As I told Judah, no-one forces you to be here.

          1. I guess you missed my points. I agreed with you. Calling me an “idealogue” whose ideas cant be changed is insulting, especially in this context. .Nothing I said in my response is ideological. I am holding my tongue, (fingers) because a lot of insults I could hurl at you, Please don’t respond. I’m done here, and for good.

          2. You have been active here a long time and my opinion is based on the totality of your opinions, all of which are Left to Far Left. As are Bogart’s.
            I have pushed back against extreme views, left and right. If you don’t believe me, ask some of the Trumpsters.

        2. Naomi, a number of people here, including myself, appreciate your thoughtful insights and would hate to see you go. Please stay!

          1. Naomi, I truly understand your frustrations in dealing with some of the people here who are totally blind, (or do not want to see), what is smacking us in our faces.

            I have had run-ins with several of them and I will probably have more.

            I honestly believe there are a few here who want to take away many of the rights certain groups of people have gained over the years. These people are so damned afraid of any changes that they feel would cause them to lose some of the control they used to have. Because of that fear they are willing to do ANYTHING to not only keep it from happening but to regain much of the control they once had.

            We, cannot allow this to happen and we must stop it from continuing. To do this we must stand up to people who want to keep taking away the rights we have fought for over all the many years.

    2. Naomi,

      I love when progressive liberals generalize the white population as racist, power hungry, wealthy afraid of change, etc. Use the term Systemic Racism as if it really exists today.
      What you all fail to realize is there are many white lower class and lower middle class people who have worked their asses off raising their children, only to be labeled as racist because we fight for them to get a proper education and pay for it with our sweat. After a while, I could not give a F### what you all think.

      However, I would hate to find that you have been silenced. Please keep on generalizing us working folks, we will continue to press for your voice to be heard.

  9. But the Supremes left in affirmative action for the military academies. 90 years of military leadership said having a diverse military force works well and the Supes’ listened. But if AA is good for the military then why is it not good for the general public? (
    BTW Stu: after reading your previous column I’m cutting back on commas).

  10. Naomi

    7/1 709 pm you said you were done posting here.

    7/2 931 am you posted again

    Thanks for a good laugh.

        1. Charles, I did not question the facts. I asked you if you had a problem with what she said as opposed to what she did. Do you have a problem with that?

    1. I am just someone who asked you a question but have found out you are too damn afraid to answer it. Typical magaott.

      You do not make me laugh. You are too pitiful for that.

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