The case against reverse discrimination

By Tom Quiner

Should we discriminate on the basis of race in college admissions?

Let’s talk this through a minute.

Most white Americans find the idea of racial discrimination repugnant. I think we feel shame for our past transgressions against our African-American brothers and sisters. And yet we feel pride for the way America stamped out slavery and passed tough laws outlawing the scourge of racial discrimination.

This is a nation which has spent most of my lifetime fighting the notion that people should be judged by the color of their skin.

Rather, we have embraced Martin Luther King’s appeal to judge the persons we meet on the content of their character, not the color of their skin.

So the question is: is it just for universities to discriminate on the basis of race in determining who gets admitted?

Universities say yes.

The Obama administration says yes.

The Bush administration said in a letter in 2008 that “quotas are impermissible.” They based this directive on recent Supreme Court rulings.

The Obama administration changed directions with their recent directive that “an institution may permissibly aim to achieve a critical mass of underrepresented students.”

What is a critical mass? A measurable quantity. A quota.

The Bush administration said:  “Before using race, there must be a serious good faith consideration of workable race-neutral alternatives.”

The Obama administration now says:

“Institutions are not required to implement race-neutral approaches if, in their judgment, the approaches would be unworkable.”

Translation: reverse-discrimination is encouraged. Race-based quotas are fine.
But is this in the best interest of African-American students? Maybe not.
Let’s take a look at one of the finest universities in America, the University of Wisconsin, which my oldest son attended. A spokesman for the university said:
“We don’t use formulas and there is no required minimum test score, GPA, or class rank. We read each application thoroughly, one by one.  We focus first on academic excellence — courses, grades, and test scores. Beyond academics, we look for qualities such as leadership, concern for others and the community, and achievement in the arts, athletics, and other areas. We’re also seeking diversity… “
They are being disingenuous on everything but the reference to diversity, as you can see from the chart above.
Look at these stats from 2008 for the University of Wisconsin:
The median SAT score of admitted blacks is 1190 compared to 1340 for whites.

The median ACT score of admitted blacks is 25 compared to 29 for whites.

The median class rank for admitted blacks was 85 compared to 93 for whites.

According to the Center for Equal Opportunity, despite the above disparity in qualifications, the university favored black applicants 576 to 1 in admissions. Chair person, Linda Chavez, called the findings:

“the most severe undergraduate admissions discrimination that CEO has ever found in the dozens of studies it has published over the last 15 years. The studies show that literally hundreds of students applying as undergrads or to the law school are rejected in favor of students with lower test scores and grades, and the reason is that they have the wrong skin color or their parents came from the wrong countries.”

Wisconsin represents the nation when it comes to reverse discrimination in college admissions. Here’s the problem: these lesser qualified black students find the competition tough and don’t graduate in as high a percentage as their white counterparts. They’re in over their heads often times.

In the name of diversity, we’re setting these kids up for failure. Eight-one percent of whites graduate compared to just 56% for blacks.

At the University of Northern Iowa, the numbers are even worse. Two out of three whites graduate compared to just 39% for blacks.

The Obama administration’s embrace of race-based admission policies sends the message that there is really nothing wrong with discrimination as long as whites are the ones harmed by the discrimination.

Is this really a step forward in race relations?

It also perpetuates the myth that blacks are inferior, a notion rejected by the conservative movement in the United States.

Conservatives believe blacks are victims of rotten public schools and propose a voucher system to free them from the shackles of inferior education. Liberals adamantly oppose this successfully tested public policy, because the teachers union, huge financial supporters of the Democratic party, feels threatened by it.

The president is also against school choice, even though he sends his daughters to a high-priced, elite private school, as do 44% of our Senators and 34% of our representatives. Even 34% of the liberal Congressional Black Congress send their kids to private schools.

What about public school teachers? They are twice as likely to send their children to private schools, even as they oppose school choice for black families who can’t afford this level of education for their children under the current public monopoly.

We’re left with the worst of all worlds:

1. Black students get a disproportionately bad education in public schools because the schools in their neighbors are inferior.

2. Liberals refuse to allow them to tap into superior private schools because they block school choice.

3. To compensate for the lousy high school education black kids receive, they embrace race-based college admissions standards, perpetuating the scourge of race discrimination.

4. Under-qualified black college students flunk out of college at alarmingly high rates.

The conservative solution is so much more effective … and moral. It’s time to stop discriminating in this country on the basis of race. It is time to adopt school choice.


  1. Lauren on June 1, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    What University/Universities is the above chart for?

    • quinersdiner on June 1, 2013 at 6:18 pm

      University of Wisconsin-Madison.