Prof: affirmative action 'not necessary or desirable'

Amber Athey
Investigative Reporter

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  • Prof. Kul B. Rai noted that diversity in higher education is already similar to national demographics.
  • A political science professor claims that “it makes little sense to continue” affirmative action and contends that the Supreme Court ruled incorrectly when it recently upheld the practice.

    Kul B. Rai, professor emeritus of political science at Southern Connecticut State University, speculates in an op-ed for the Republican American that if universities were to continue using racial preferences in admissions decisions, it “clearly would be at the cost of deserving white students,” because student diversity is already largely in line with the overall population.

    "Hispanic enrollment in colleges is nearly proportional to the Hispanic population, blacks are over-represented..."   

    “The origin of affirmative action stems from the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” he observes, noting that “President Lyndon Johnson had advocated ‘equality as a result,’ not just equality of opportunity.”

    Rai cites statistics pertaining to racial breakdowns of college students to prove that equality in higher education, as desired by Johnson, has already been achieved.

    According to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, 16 percent of college students are Hispanic, 15 percent of college students are black, and 59 percent are white.

    U.S. Census data, meanwhile, shows that Hispanics comprise 17 percent of the U.S. population, blacks constitute 12.3 percent, and whites make up 63 percent.

    What this shows, says Rai, is that “Hispanic enrollment in colleges is nearly proportional to the Hispanic population, blacks are over-represented, and whites are under-represented.”

    “In view of such data, it makes little sense to continue racial preferences in college admissions,” he contends. “If racial preferences in college admissions continue as the Supreme Court has ruled, it clearly would be at the cost of deserving white students.”

    In addition to his claim that racial equality in higher education has already been achieved, Rai also argues that affirmative action measures cause unnecessary division amongst racial groups, as was the case with Abigail Fisher’s lawsuit against the University of Texas at Austin, in which Fisher, a white woman, alleged that she was denied admission at UT while minorities with lower test scores and grades were granted admission.

    [RELATED: Supreme Court upholds affirmative action for college admissions]

    While teaching at a public institution for 40 years, Rai observed that his white students often strongly opposed affirmative action, while Hispanic students rarely expressed an opinion. His black students, on the other hand, were more likely to believe that such policies are necessary to pay for past injustices.

    Rai’s experience in the classroom generally reflects the views of the U.S. population overall. Most whites and Hispanics that have been surveyed believe college admission should be based solely on merit, while blacks are more divided on the issue.

    [RELATED: Poll: Even minorities oppose affirmative action]

    “Affirmative action in college admissions and other areas, notably employment, has been divisive in the United States as well as in other countries that have introduced such programs,” Rai asserts. “According to a Gallup poll, two-thirds of Americans believe college admissions should be based solely on merit.”

    Rai is also the co-author of Affirmative Action and the University, a study exploring the extent to which affirmative action hiring policies create a “two-tier employment system” in which women and minorities languish in mid-level positions, rather than advancing to administrative positions.

    “Racial preferences in college admissions should end because they are neither necessary nor desirable,” Rai concludes. “Fortunately, opposition to racial preferences has been muted in the United States. However, it makes little sense to continue it.”

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @amber_athey



    Amber Athey

    Amber Athey

    Investigative Reporter

    Amber Athey is an Investigative Reporter for Campus Reform. She graduated from Georgetown University with a B.A. in Government and Economics, and is currently a member of the 2016-2017 Koch Associate Program. 

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