In today’s Washington Post, Mary Sue Coleman, president of the University of Michigan, presents a stunningly platitudinous defense of race-based college admissions. We have dealt with most of Coleman’s arguments in prior blogs. Nonetheless, a few things stand out here. First, Coleman offers no support for any of her assertions about the benefits of campus “diversity.” For example, she states that “diversity of our colleges and universities is one of the major reasons the American system of higher education has been viewed in recent decades as the best in the world.” This claim seems absurd, except to the extent that those doing the “viewing” merely assume that diversity has a positive relationship to quality. As I pointed out on Friday, the lowering of admissions standards that accompanies race-based preferences of the magnitude now in play naturally leads to a lowering of educational standards.
Coleman also asserts that a ruling overturning Bakke could result in “the immediate re-segregation of our nation’s top universities, both public and private.” Again, she offers no support for this highly charged contention. As I have noted, such a ruling would not result in anything resembling segregation at the University of Michigan. Indeed, statistics presented by Coleman’s predecessor in a Washington Post op-ed piece several years ago showed that blacks would remain a significant presence at the University — they just wouldn’t have the proportional representation that the education bureaucrats insist upon.
Equally disingenuous is Coleman’s claim that “universities have relied on Bakke for the past quarter-century.” It is more accurate to say that universities have seized on Justice Powell’s opinion in Bakke (the opinion of one Justice) as a pretext for doing what a majority of the Court (including Powell) said they couldn’t do — institute a quota admissions system.
Finally, consider this statement by Coleman — “our society is more diverse today, yet more segregated along racial lines in many ways than at any time since. . .1954.” What is Coleman’s evidence for this slanderous statement? She offers none. Yet this seems to be the basis for the title of her piece, “No Time for Colorblindness.” Is it unfair to ask Coleman when she thinks the time for colorblindness will come?
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