Affirmative action: Who does it help and who does it hurt?
There’s a certain irony in the fact that white students usually bring these affirmative action lawsuits (and that defenses of affirmative action are often framed in terms of white privilege). The evidence seems to show that if completely race-neutral admissions policies were adopted at colleges and universities, the admissions rates for blacks and hispanic would fall dramatically . . . but the admissions rates for whites wouldn’t change much. The primary beneficiaries would be Asian students, who would fill nearly four out of five of the extra admissions slots.
One of the oddest facts about college admissions is that everyone seems to be aware that colleges have imposed restrictive admissions quotas to keep Asians underrepresented in their student bodies, akin to the “Jewish quotas” which used to exist at Ivy League schools until the 1950s. But no one seems particularly bothered about systemic, institutionalized racial discrimination against a large group of Americans. I’m not even aware of any concerted effort by Asian community groups to shame universities into stopping this.
That tells us who affirmative action hurts. But who does it help?