Book: Racial preferences in university admissions have harmed minority communities

The use of racial preferences in university admissions has harmed the minority communities it was supposed to benefit, argue the authors of a new book, “Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit it.”

The book’s authors — UCLA Law School Professor Richard Sander and National Journal columnist Stuart Taylor Jr. — make the case against racial preferences, but not on the grounds that they’re unconstitutional. They argue that racial preferences actually harm the beneficiaries by placing them in an academic environment they aren’t prepared for.

“When a given student — let’s call her ‘Susan’ — receives a large admissions preference into an elite university, Susan is likely to be confronted with pretty intense competition,” the authors explained in an email to The Daily Caller.

“Most of the other students have much stronger academic preparation than Susan, and the professors are teaching towards the middle of the class, rather than the students like Susan who need to catch up. As a result, Susan is likely to struggle in the class, get a low grade, and actually learn less than she would have if she had attended a somewhat less elite school. That’s why we say that students receiving large preferences are often ‘mismatched.'”

For instance, the consequences of racial preferences on the African-American community have been “quite serious,” the authors argue.

“Today only one in three African-Americans who starts law school succeeds in graduating and passing the bar exam on his or her first attempt,” Sander and Taylor told TheDC.

“That’s quite serious, especially given the amount of debt students take on these days to go to law school. In part because of science mismatch, blacks achieve doctorates in science at one-seventh the rate of whites. Controlling for background and academic preparation, blacks in recent years are 30% more likely than whites to attend a four-year college, but 30% less likely to get a bachelor’s degree. All this does grave damage to the intellectual self-confidence of many struggling students, with potential long-term consequences, and aggravates racial stereotypes.”

Read on the next page TheDC’s full interview with the Sander and Taylor on their book, whether they believe racial preferences are unconstitutional, whether they believe racial diversity is a noble goal in university admissions and much more.