by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Shannon Watkins of the Martin Center interviews a California expert on the impact of race-based college admissions.
Currently, nine states prohibit colleges and universities from practicing race-conscious admissions. That number may soon become ten if a new bill in the North Carolina legislature is successfully adopted.
Public opinion polling shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose racial preferences in college admissions. Even in states dominated by the political left, citizens have made it clear that they prefer students be admitted into college based on merit, not based on the color of their skin. One person who can testify to this reality is Wenyuan Wu.
Wu is executive director of Californians for Equal Rights, which is a nonprofit in California dedicated to the principle of color-blind equal rights. Wu and her colleagues work to oppose legislative attempts to instate racial and gender preferences in government programs, including higher education.
In August, the Martin Center spoke with Wu to discuss why preferential treatment in admissions is a flawed policy, as well as states’ attempts to ban it. The transcription has been edited for clarity and length.
Advocates of race-conscious admissions say that such practices help close the enrollment and achievement gaps for minorities. Is that true, do minorities have better academic outcomes because of affirmative action? …
… Over time, affirmative action has actually morphed into a regime of policies, principles, and, and initiatives centered around the concept of preferential treatment. When we talk about affirmative action in today’s public dialogue, oftentimes we are not referring to the nondiscrimination part of affirmative action, but the preferential part of affirmative action. So coming back to your question—whether affirmative action has helped minority applicants and minority students academically—I think the answer really depends on how you define affirmative action.
If we define affirmative action in its actuality, which is synonymous with race-based preferences, my answer is “no,” it has not helped the intended beneficiaries that the policy has purported to benefit.