A progressive friend recently wrote me and said, "If affirmative action is ended, America's elite colleges will again be all white."
First of all, let me note that I am fine with "limited" affirmative action: if there is basically a tie between two students seeking admission to a college, I think it is OK to use minority status to break the tie.
But what I really want to remark upon is the amazing claim that only affirmative action prevents America's elite universities from being "all white." UC Berkeley is a pretty elite place, and affirmative action is illegal in the California. Here are its most recent enrollment statistics.
Say what?! Whites make up only 24.3% of the admitted students! Chinese students are at 19.5%, nearly the same level as whites, and this despite the fact the whites outnumber Chinese in California by about 22 to 1. South Asians are another 9% of the admissions: over a third of the number of white admittees, despite whites outnumbering South Asians in the state by roughly 40 to 1. The numbers are similarly disproportianate for other Asian groups, for instance, Koreans are around 5% of admittees, despite being only about 1/80 of California's population.
As a "person of paleness," my reaction to these figures is, "Bully for you, Chinese and Indian and Korean students! And white students: you don't have any 'right' to be admitted as 40% (the white portion of the population of California) of UC Berkeley's students: You want to get in? Study harder!"
All that being said, blacks in the U.S. have, of course, had a unique history of being discriminated against. And I think it is fine to try to address this fact. But let's do it by devoting resources to getting more black students ready for elite universities, not by admitting those who aren't ready.