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He can end up demoralized and learn less than he would have been capable of otherwise.Such a student, through no fault of his own, has been “mismatched.” He may give up on tough but rewarding majors in science and engineering and opt for soft majors that are less likely to lead to high-status careers.By 1976, when Mosk was writing, we owed it to ourselves to be more skeptical.
The first 84 out of 100 seats in the class were given to the most qualified applicants regardless of their race, ethnicity, or other disadvantage. The remaining 16 seats were reserved for the disadvantaged, but in practice, “disadvantaged” always meant members of racial minorities.The real conflict over race-preferential admissions policies has not been about good or bad faith or whether we should aspire to be a society in which members of racial minorities are fully integrated into the mainstream. No less a liberal icon than California Supreme Court Justice Stanley Mosk warned of the risks associated with such temporary compromises with principle when, writing for the California Supreme Court in To uphold the [argument for race-preferential admissions] would call for the sacrifice of principle for the sake of dubious expediency and would represent a retreat in the struggle to assure that each man and woman shall be judged on the basis of individual merit alone, a struggle which has only lately achieved success in removing legal barriers to racial equality. Justice Mosk understood something basic about race discrimination.Throughout history, the temptation to engage in it has almost always come packaged with a justification that many found appealing at the time. When the country has succumbed to that temptation, however, it has almost always come to regret it.Mounting empirical research shows that race-preferential admissions policies are doing more harm than good.
Instead of increasing the numbers of African Americans entering high-status careers, these policies reduce those numbers relative to what we would have had if colleges and universities had followed race-neutral policies.
The problem is not that no academically gifted African-American students are seeking admission to college and universities. But there are not enough at the very top tiers to satisfy the demand, and efforts to change that have had a pernicious effect on admissions up and down the academic pecking order, creating a serious credentials gap at every competitive level.