The War To Keep Race-Based Admissions

Elite universities may be trying to maintain racial preferences by other means.

Photo by Sam Balye / Unsplash

Written by Jack Elbaum

What’s happening: Some elite universities are trying to keep racial preferences in the admissions process, despite the Supreme Court ruling against affirmative action in public colleges in June and with the support of the Biden administration.

  • Zoom in: Johns Hopkins University added a supplemental essay prompt that asks applicants about “an aspect of your identity (e.g. race, gender, sexuality, religion, community, etc.) or a life experience that has shaped you as an individual.” Harvard added a similar prompt.

  • Plus: Columbia University Law School wanted all applicants to submit a video of themselves but later backtracked after being accused of trying to know the race of applicants through their appearance.

Why it matters: The efforts may run afoul of the Court’s ruling. The Court held that universities may consider "an applicant's discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise,” but that “universities may not simply establish through application essays or other means the regime we hold unlawful today.”

No surprise: Liberal elite universities lamented the Supreme Court’s decision when it was released; affirmative action is a pillar of progressivism, while meritocracy is seen as immoral. Still, 82 percent of Americans do not believe race should be a factor in college admissions.