Does diversity on campus have a future?

Rather, the facts on the ground — as opposed to in colleges’ multiracial publicity photos on websites and brochure covers — can be taken as support for the growing movement to base admissions preferences at universities on socioeconomics.

The originators of affirmative action policies would find this a familiar and compelling approach, given that until the Bakke decision, the whole policy was founded on a quest for reparation, making up for historic discrimination against black people.

In an America where it is becoming increasingly difficult to see poverty, the “underclass,” and historic disadvantage as having solely a black face, restoring affirmative action as an anti-poverty policy is progressive.

Some assail this approach as cluelessly “race-blind,” but they’re wrong. Fears that hardship-based affirmative action would mean black and Latino students being all but eliminated on college campuses in favor of working-class whites are overblown, as is clear from rigorous treatments such as this one. Rather, letting go of the ever-fragile diversity rationale would, while leaving college campuses with healthy populations of black and Latino students, finally let us exhale.