The SCOTUS decision to end race-based affirmative action in “Students for Fair Admission v. Harvard” and “Students for Fair Admission v. UNC” delivers on a long held desire of the political right (check out the AAUP’s many amicus briefs on cases on this topic). Despite the partisan framing of the debate, opinion polling also shows that race-based affirmative action was unpopular with a majority of Americans. What both the Supreme Court decision and the opinion polls miss is the systemic “affirmative action” for wealthy students, a population that skews white. What some people call “white affirmative action” will remain despite the end of race-based affirmative action, because it is endemic to our society.
What is a selective liberal art university to do?
- Wesleyan University has just decided to end legacy admissions. Might Bucknell follow suit and end legacy admissions?
- Middlebury, one of Bucknell’s self-determined peer institutions, has already done away with athletic scholarships. Athletics has long been used by parents and students from overrepresented populations as a backdoor into selective universities—think filling the fencing, tennis, or golf teams—since sports participation, more than other extracurriculars, can be costly. Might Bucknell reconsider merit aid and the gatekeeping role of extracurriculars in admissions?
- Tyler Austin Harper, assistant professor at Bates College, has some suggestions in his forceful NYTimes Op-Ed. “First, [elite colleges and universities] should exit the D.E.I.-industrial complex, which prioritizes the kind of cheap fixes, awareness raising and one-off speaker events that have been shown to bear little fruit. If you work at or attend these, any time people claim to be taking antiracist actions, demand that they explain—specifically‚ whom it is going to materially help and how it is going to materially help them. . . . If success is a change in the culture that you can’t quantify, document or meaningfully evaluate, then it is probably BS. So ask for the receipts. Doing nothing is better than doing something if the something in question is P.R. skullduggery that provides cover for racist policies that keep campuses rich and white. . . . .Second, elite colleges and universities should band together to strangle the parasitic U.S. News & World Report ranking system . . . . Exiting this system, which elite college and university presidents should collectively announce they are doing right now, will allow them to reimagine admission process without fear of penalty.” How can AAUP Bucknell help incoming VP for Equity and Inclusive Excellence Vernese Edghill-Walden exit the DEI-industrial complex and give anti-racism work at Bucknell real teeth?
What do you think AAUP Bucknell should advocate for when it comes to admissions?