New Issue Brief: Will College Admissions Ever Be Race-Blind?
Even if the Supreme Court bans the direct use of race in admissions, colleges will continue pursuing racial diversity using other means
NEW YORK, NY — The Supreme Court is poised to strike down affirmative action in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina, giving rise to speculation about the future of college admissions. Some colleges might discreetly defy the ruling and continue enhancing admissions chances for applicants from preferred races. Many more are expected to embrace “race-neutral alternatives” aiming to preserve racial balance on campus without directly using race in admissions.
In a new issue brief, Manhattan Institute fellow Robert VerBruggen outlines the problems besetting “race-neutral alternatives.” He notes the experiences of states that have banned affirmative action and analyzes recent trends in "test-optional" and "test-blind" admissions, both nationwide and in the University of California system. VerBruggen finds there are inherent tensions between academic standards and diversity, moral concerns about racial balancing versus meritocracy, and legal challenges to deliberately reshaping a school's racial balance through the use of facially non-racial criteria. Though the Supreme Court will likely ban the direct use of race in admissions, the fights over race and enrollment in higher education are far from over. Colleges and universities will continue to pursue alternatives that are anything but race-blind by design.