Getting Clear About Diversity and Affirmative Action

Affirmative action is once again in the news. This time because of a leaked Justice Department memo indicating possible action regarding complaints from Asian-American groups that Harvard University is discriminating against Asian-Americans in its admissions policies.

As this story was breaking, Harvard released news that, for the first time in history, the majority of its incoming freshman class will not be white. Per the story, 50.8 percent of Harvard’s class of 2021 will not be white.

Here’s Harvard’s spokesperson: “To become leaders in our diverse society, students must have the ability to work with people from different backgrounds, life experiences, and perspectives. … Harvard’s admissions process considers each applicant as a whole person, and we review many factors, consistent with the legal standards established by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

As the law stands today, although quotas and other quantitative approaches to considering race in admissions policies are prohibited, universities may consider race as a factor in admissions toward the goal of diversity.

I agree with the Supreme Court and Harvard about the importance of diversity. But we differ about what kind of diversity we’re looking for and whether the law should mandate it.

Do we have diversity in a class of students whose hues cover the full spectrum of the rainbow, whose ethnic roots span the globe, but who are taught one way of thinking and chastised if they don’t toe the line?

It’s not news that university faculties are skewed heavily to the political left. Harvard is no exception.

Per analysis done by the university newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, over the three-year period from 2011 to 2014, 84 percent of political contributions from Harvard faculty, instructors and researchers went “to federal Democratic campaigns and political action committees.”

At Harvard Law school it was 98 percent and at Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which includes Harvard College, it was 96 percent.

Does this pronounced faculty bias make its way into the classroom?

Yes, according to Harvard University Professor of Government Harvey Mansfield, a Republican. “The only debate we get here is between the far-left … and the liberals,” says Mansfield. “It gives students a view that a very narrow spectrum of opinion is the only way to think.”

Per findings of the Harvard Public Opinion Project, done at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, 51 percent of college students say they “feel comfortable sharing my political opinions at my college without fear of censorship or negative repercussions.”

Barely more than half of students feel comfortable expressing their political sentiments on campus — that doesn’t sound to me like an environment where priority is given to diverse thought and discussion.

And according to this survey, 21 percent of Republican students, compared to 8 percent of Democrat students, said they do not feel comfortable expressing themselves.

I have enough personal experience speaking on university campuses to know that embracing diversity and tolerance doesn’t include conservative thinking.

No, I am not advocating affirmative action for conservatives. I am advocating education based on the premise of the uncompromising pursuit of truth. This will produce humility, mutual respect, ideals, excellence and diversity.

When education becomes about politics and indoctrination, when politicized university administrators decide what the world should look like and choose to create a world in their image, rather than in the image of God, no one, even those who suffer from the legacy of racial injustice, are served.

There are, unfortunately, still many parts of our society where the legacy of racial injustice limits opportunity. Let’s discuss how to stop it and how to open the doors for every American to reach their God-given potential.

But undermining equal treatment for all and compromising standards of excellence in the pursuit of knowledge is not one of those ways.



Photo credit: By Nicola Sap De Mitri – flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

StarParkerBCNStar Parker is the founder and president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education. Contact her at

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