If preferences for black and Hispanic applicants are abolished, expect a backlash against admissions boosts for children of alumni and donors.
Perpetually in jeopardy, the use of racial preferences in college admissions is under greater threat than ever.
President Donald Trump has scrapped Obama-era guidelines that encouraged universities to consider race as a factor. He has proposed replacing Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion in a 2016 case upholding affirmative action by one vote, with the more conservative Brett Kavanaugh. Meanwhile, a lawsuit challenging Harvard’s preferences for Hispanics and African Americans has uncovered the university’s dubious pattern of rejecting academically outstanding Asian-American candidates — who don’t qualify for a race-related boost — by giving them low marks for personality. Either the Harvard case, or a similar lawsuit against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, could put an end to affirmative action.
If it is abolished, though, there will undoubtedly be increased pressure to also eliminate admissions criteria that favor a very different demographic — children of alumni and donors. Colleges are reluctant to drop these preferences of privilege for fear of hurting fundraising. But the political price of clinging to them could be significant.
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