Prop 209 California — No, We Don’t Need Racial Preferences

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Racial preferences are not popular in America.  Not even in California, where the effort to repeal Prop. 209 was handily defeated in the election, despite support from business, celebrities, institutions and the Democratic Party, backed by a huge bankroll. (Spending on the campaign to repeal the racial neutrality language was ten times the spending to preserve it.)

In today’s Martin Center article, UCLA’s Walt Gardner points to the one premier school that disdains all considerations except academic excellence — Cal Tech. The administration at Cal Tech doesn’t mind that a “disproportionate” number of its students are of Asian descent.

Gardner writes, “Despite intense pressure to bring the school in line, Cal Tech has refused to bend its standards. That means no preference is given to athletes, legacies, development cases, or racial minorities. Being rich, famous, or well-connected counts for naught. All that matters is enrolling the most academically advanced and accomplished students with a passion for science.”

Cal Tech does practice “affirmative action,” but in the original sense — it does reach out to “underrepresented minority” students, but won’t lower its admission standards just for the sake of diversity.

Looking at the success of Prop. 209 in channeling more minority students into STEM majors (although not necessarily at the state’s most prestigious universities), Gardner draws this conclusion: “In short, black and Hispanic students are not a monolith. Those who possess the wherewithal for success will be admitted and can clearly perform as well as white and Asian students.”

Perhaps the California results will get more college leaders thinking like those at Cal Tech — the “diversity” mania is a terrible mistake. Focus instead on academic capability and the desire to learn.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.





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