Racial Equity in Higher Education

Thirty years of affirmative action in higher education, largely as preferential admissions, has failed, and it has failed at individual institutions. No matter how hard the pill is to swallow, individual institutions each need to become more straight forward and more accountable about what policies and practices have accounted for the relative white (non-Hispanic) advantage at their institutions. Documenting these factors, as part of an institutional affirmative action audit, is the required basis for taking local remedial actions.

This workshop is for college and university faculty and administrators who wish to gain a deeper understanding of why affirmative action has been ineffective, and how individual institutions can develop effective strategies for achieving racial equity.

Population Demographics

 In the general population, of those over 18 years of age, more than 70% are white (non-Hispanic), and less than 30 percent are minorities. However, of those under 18 years of age, only 60 percent are white (non-Hispanic), and 40 percent are minorities. Because of this racial difference in the age distribution of the population, we are rapidly moving toward a time in the near future when non-whites and Hispanics will be a majority among the young.

Racial Breakdown of Enrollment Patterns

Each year the the National Center for Educational Statistics publishes a racial breakdown of enrollment for every college and university in the U. S. This data provides descriptive information on national patterns and allows each institution to position itself with respect to others. This comparative self-study is the first step for local actions.

Individual Institutional Audits

"Higher education" is not an entity with a geographic location, a President and a Board. Rather, it is composed of individual institutions, each with its own Board, administration, mission, location and admission policies. Although the problem is national and general, the required actions are local and institution specific. There are no external "others" on whom we can wait to resolve the issues.

Terms of Engagement

Institutions should stop using diversity as the primary justification for preferential admissions. The opponents of affirmative action have it correct. The issue is equality, not diversity. Inequality is the constitutional issue and the goal is numerical equality.

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