Washington, DC—On Monday, January 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases asking the court to reconsider universities’ use of race in their admissions practices.
Students for Fair Admissions v. President & Fellows of Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina both ask the high court to overrule previous decisions that allow universities to consider the race of the applicant as part of their efforts to admit a diverse student body.
In response, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) issued the following statements from ACTA President Michael B. Poliakoff, Ph.D., ACTA Board Member Stuart Taylor, Jr., and ACTA Vice President of Academic Affairs Jonathan Pidluzny, Ph.D.
“As a citizen of this nation, an educator, and the father of two adopted Asian daughters, I am outraged by the evidence of Harvard’s discrimination against meritorious Asian American applicants in its admissions process. Should such odious admissions processes be allowed to stand, these young women and millions of others after them could face even higher barriers of entry to America’s most storied institution of higher learning simply because of the hue of their skin or their ethnic heritage. So would many white students, poor and rich alike. What Harvard has been doing, relying on fungible criteria and the twisting of language and definitions, does not hide its calumny. Such actions are anti-American and immoral. Contrary to the precepts of Ibram X. Kendi that have gained traction recently, it is bizarre in the extreme to allege that the only remedy to discrimination in the past is to engage in present discrimination, or future discrimination. Allowing Harvard, or any other institution of higher learning, or any American institution at all to codify such an approach would be to shred the U.S. Constitution. Bigoted admissions processes merit a final, strong, crystal-clear rebuke from the highest court in the land.”
Michael Poliakoff, Ph.D.
President, American Council of Trustees and Alumni
“At the very least, the court should hold that ‘narrow tailoring’ requires universities to make public the data that show the degree of their use of racial preferences and the average academic performance in college of the preferred groups. This would enable preferred students from those groups to assess how steep a hill they would have to climb to compete with far better-prepared classmates. Transparency would also be useful to policymakers and citizens. Schools should be pressured to disclose the size of their legacy and other preferences as well.
“Yale President Peter Salovey wrote a letter to the university at large in 2018 insisting that ‘Yale does not discriminate in admissions against Asian-Americans or any other racial or ethnic group.’ Harvard President Lawrence S. Bacow followed suit in a letter to the college’s alumni: ‘Let me be unequivocal: The College’s admissions process does not discriminate against anybody.’
“The evidence suggests these are bald-faced lies. Putting aside for the moment the powerful evidence of discrimination against Asian Americans, don’t white kids count? Do not those who are rejected based on race to make room for much less qualified applicants experience discrimination? The lies will continue as long as racial preferences do.
“The late justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote for five justices in 2003, in Grutter v. Bollinger,‘race-conscious admissions policies must be limited in time,’ adding that ‘the Court expects that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today.’”
Stuart Taylor, Jr.
Board Member, American Council of Trustees and Alumni
“It is past time for the court to address the use of race in college admissions. The court’s rulings in Grutter v. Bollinger and Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, reaffirmed in Fisher v. University of Texas six years ago, have allowed U.S. colleges and universities to develop admissions procedures that, in practice, discriminate blatantly based on race, with Asian students most likely to be disadvantaged.
“One analysis that sought to quantify the ‘Asian penalty’ found that if Asian American applicants to Harvard University ‘were treated as . . . African-American applicants, the Asian-American admission rate would jump [from 3.95%] . . . to a 24.2% chance of admission,’ a sixfold increase. To deny a student admission entirely, or almost entirely, based on his or her race is an appalling injustice—and all too common at elite universities today. Admitting students based on race, as opposed to their academic preparation, is also a disservice to the underprepared matriculants who cannot compete with classmates in difficult majors.
“The 1978 Bakke ruling ultimately and inadvertently opened the door today for the diversity, equity, and inclusion regimes that are transforming the American university.Justice Lewis Powell’s opinion, while it forbade racial quotas, permitted the use of race in college admissions on the rationale that important ‘educational benefits . . . flow from an ethnically diverse student body.’ And it is undoubtedly true that campuses are enriched immeasurably by a diversity of perspectives in the student body (views that are often forged by different socioeconomic or religious environments).
“Now, over 40 years later, however, we know that an obsessive focus on diversifying the campus, where administrators focus almost exclusively on students’ demographic characteristics, has seriously damaged the academic environment. In the name of achieving greater ‘diversity,’ university bureaucrats have launched Orwellian bias response teams, mandated highly partisan ideological training for students and faculty, and worked to establish a viewpoint-monoculture on college campuses. Some colleges and universities even encourage students to segregate themselves based on race.
“Far from breaking down stereotypes, the academy’s obsession with diversity teaches college graduates that it is appropriate—even an imperative—to judge others on the basis of group identity. Reversing Grutter and Bakke would help to restore justice and fairness to college admissions. It is also an important first step toward unwinding some of the more damaging race-based policies poisoning U.S. campuses today.”
Jonathan Pidluzny, Ph.D.
Vice President, Academic Affairs, American Council of Trustees and Alumni
All three parties quoted are available for further comment.
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