By now everyone here is probably familiar with UCLA law prof Richard Sander’s argument (supported by copious evidence) that preferential admissions actually reduces the number of black lawyers (by inducing them to attend highly competitive schools where they drop out in large numbers). If not, look here, here, here, and here for starters.
Sander’s argument reinforces a point I’ve made here several times — that since “diversity” is justified by the benefits it allegedly provides to those non-minoritiy students who are exposed to the “diverse” minorities who are preferentially admitted (those minorities, after all, would receive whatever benefits “diversity” has to offer even if they attended less competitive schools), there is an ugly, unstated element of exploitation associated with it.
Sometimes, in presumably unguarded moments, diversiphiles even admit as much. An example occurred recently at a U.S. Commission on Civil Rights hearing on the American Bar Association’s proposed new accreditation standard, which appears to require law schools to bestow racial preferences. The following passage is from a report on that hearing in the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Richard H. Sander, a law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, argued that law schools should not be using such preferences at all because they actually hurt, rather than help, black law students. For instance, at a majority of law schools, he said, half of all black students end up in the bottom 10th of their class, and black students are two and a half times more likely than whites to leave law school before graduating.
Mr. Sander is the author of a controversial study that argues that ending racial preferences in law-school admissions would actually increase the number of black lawyers because it would help ensure that students would attend law schools where they are more likely to succeed. He argued that the elite law schools draw black students who are not prepared to succeed there.
But Richard O. Lempert, a law professor at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, disagreed with Mr. Sander’s findings.
He said that according to a study that he and a colleague published, minority students who graduated from Michigan’s law school between 1970 and 1996 were just as successful in their careers as their white peers, even though they were admitted with significantly fewer credentials and started with lower grade-point averages.
Jennifer C. Braceras, a Republican member of the panel and a Harvard Law School graduate, asked Mr. Lempert why he believed students from minority groups would be worse off attending lower-tier rather than elite law schools, given Mr. Sander’s testimony.
“It would make the law schools worse off,” Mr. Lempert said. [Emphasis added]
“That’s a completely different question,” Ms. Braceras interrupted. “That goes to how you as a white professor feel about yourself. Law schools like to justify affirmative action by their own white guilt. But the question Professor Sander is asking,” she continued, is, “how does it help the alleged beneficiaries?”
With respect, I believe Commissioner Braceras misses a crucial point here. The preferentially admitted minorties are not the beneficiaries — they are not even the “alleged beneficiaries” — of “diversity”-justified preferential admissions. They are merely the instrumental agents of benefits that are alleged to accrue to others because of their presence. Thus it really doesn’t matter how many of them drop out, so long as a large enough “critical mass” remains to provide “diversity” to the non-minority students.
In this regard the preferentially-admitted minorities are directly analogous to the K–12 students who are not allowed to transfer to another school if doing so would reduce the amount of “diversity” available to the students in their current school. (See here, here, here, and here.)
As a commenter below points out, Peter Kirsanow, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, discusses some of these points, and reaches similar concludions, here.