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OPINION - Race-based college admissions

by Chris Conley

NEWS BLOG (WSAU) He has short blonde hair and blue eyes. He speaks with a British accent that doesn’t sound quite right. He sounds like maybe he’s from Australia, or maybe he’s Welch. He isn’t. His father is a successful computer programmer, who brought his family to America and became a naturalized citizen.

Now his oldest son is about to attend college. On his college application he checks the box marked ‘African-American’. Indeed he is. His family emigrated from Johannesburg. Should he get preferred treatment?

This shows how ludicrous race-based admissions are.

There are other absurdities. A Caucasian-appearing female whose mother appears to be white and father appears to be white can claim to be Hispanic because her grandfather was born in Mexico. (Many schools use a blatantly-discriminatory “25% rule” to determine minority status.) No matter if the applicant doesn’t speak Spanish and grew up in the upper-class suburbs. She could claim a race-based advantage. Is she entitled to it?

There are some Asian-Americans who are disadvantaged when they apply for college. States with small Asian populations find many students with straight A’s looking for those slots. A Taiwanese or Korean student has a better chance of getting into college by identifying themselves as white.

What about Jews? They don’t get a race-based preference, although Karaite jews are African – and they are a much smaller minority than traditional African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans.

If you want to throw your hands up and say ‘this is ridiculous’ – that’s the point.

It will get even more confusing. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 25% of Asian-Americans will marry outside their ethnic group. It’s 24% for Hispanic-Americans and 17% for African-Americans. The second-generation children of these marriages see no distinctions in who they procreate with. How should the college admissions office treat them?

The time has come for race-blind college admissions. If we’re supposed to treat everyone equally once they’re in school, let’s treat them the same when they apply.

Chris Conley
6.24.13